Last edited 17 Sep 2020

Planning condition

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines a planning condition as, 'A condition imposed on a grant of planning permission (in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) or a condition included in a Local Development Order or Neighbourhood Development Order.'

Rather than refusing a planning application, a local authority might grant permission, but with conditions. These conditions might require additional approvals for specific aspects of the development (such as the colour of materials) or might restrict the use of the site (for example limiting operating hours).

If early consultation takes place with the local planning authority before the application is submitted, or before the planning committee meeting, it may be possible to broadly agree the nature of conditions that the planning committee are likely to impose. Such recommended conditions may appear in the planning officers report to the committee.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that planning conditions should only be imposed where they are ‘necessary, 'relevant to planning and to the development to be permitted, enforceable, precise and reasonable in all other respects’.

If the applicant is unhappy about the imposition of conditions, they can appeal to the Secretary of State. In addition, section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 'determination of applications to develop land without conditions previously attached' permits application to remove planning conditions or to vary planning conditions following the grant of planning permission. See Section 73 for more information.

Planning permissions may also be subject to planning obligations (section 106 agreements). Planning obligations are used to mitigate or compensate for negative impacts of development that might otherwise make them unacceptable.

The community infrastructure levy is a charge that local authorities can choose to impose on new developments to fund local infrastructure. When local authorities are deciding whether to impose planning conditions, they should consider the combined effect that those conditions and the community infrastructure levy will have on the proposed development.

(Ref. Department for Communities and Local Government: Community Infrastructure Levy guidance 14 December 2012)

NB: In December 2013, the government announced proposals to legislate so that when a local authority fails to deal with details required by a condition on a planning permission on time, it will be treated as approved. It also proposes to strengthen the requirement for councils to justify conditions which require more information before work can start. (Ref. Simplified planning to speed up delivery of new homes and support local jobs, December 4 2013.) The Queens Speech 2014, suggested that this would be implemented through a new Infrastructure Bill.

On 31 July 2014, Brandon Lewis, newly-appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government, announced proposals to ensure planning conditions are cleared on time so that new homes that have planning permission can be built without delay.

(Ref. DCLG, Making the planning system work more efficiently and effectively, Giving communities more power in planning local development, 31 July 2014.)

On 4 November 2014, the government announced that it would introduce secondary legislation to allow the deemed discharge of planning conditions where they are not discharged by a local planning authority within a reasonable time.

See Deemed discharge of planning conditions for more information.

In May 2016, the Planning and Infrastructure Bill set out plans to limit the use of planning conditions that are a pre-requisite to starting work on site. Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said:

"I am aware of cases where half of the conditions attached require further agreement from the local authority. These are planning permissions that have been given the green light for building, but it can take months or even years to resolve these conditions. Many Members of all parties will have had residents affected or seen for themselves examples of sites for which permission has been granted, yet they have not been built on. It is most frustrating for a community to see that, and we need to put an end to it."

On 7 December 2016, the Government response to the consultation on improving the use of planning conditions confirmed that six types of condition will be prohibited by secondary legislation:

New regulations came into force on 1 October 2018 requiring that local authorities asking for pre-commencement conditions must obtain the applicant’s written consent to the terms of the conditions. They are also be required to set out their reasons for any conditions, why they are being imposed as pre-commencement conditions, and how and how quickly the applicant must respond.

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