In the old days when life was simple a householder could start digging the foundations for his extension whilst waiting for written confirmation from the council that it was pd. Not now.
In (DCS Number 400-010-192) the appellant made a prior approval application to the council in respect of a 6m rear extension. Then he started digging. The inspector recorded that sub-paragraph (10) of Schedule 2, Part 1, Paragraph A.4 to the GPDO states:
(10) The development must not begin before the occurrence of one of the following— (a) the receipt by the developer from the local planning authority of a written notice that their prior approval is not required; (b) the receipt by the developer from the local planning authority of a written notice giving their prior approval; or (c) the expiry of 42 days following the date on which the information referred to in sub-paragraph (2) was received by the local planning authority without the local planning authority notifying the developer as to whether prior approval is given or refused.
The inspector reasoned that this sub-paragraph is written in absolute terms through the use of the word ‘must’. A failure to comply with any of the criteria therefore means that the works in question are no longer permitted development. Since the works had commenced prior to 42 days of the application being made and there was no earlier notice that prior approval was not required or had been granted, they were not permitted development.
Of course, starting a development without the benefit of any written confirmation as to its lawfulness was never for the risk averse, but grown-ups were allowed to make a judgement according to their circumstances, in contrast with the current ‘Nanny knows best’ approach. Maybe ‘must’ could be replaced with ‘should’.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.3421