An inspector decided that a cheque payment for a prior approval application failed to start the clock ticking and as a consequence the council had made its decision within 56 days (DCS Number 200-004-820).
A certificate of lawfulness was sought at appeal following the refusal of the prior approval application. The prior approval application related to the conversion of offices in north London to flats under the GPDO. The appellant submitted the application on 26 June 2014 with a cheque. The council had a policy of not accepting cheques, however, and the appellant was requested to make a more ‘immediate’ form of payment. The appellant having done so, the application was registered on 4 July 2014. The inspector recorded that if the application was valid on 26 June 2014 the council’s decision would have exceeded the 56 day limit and if valid on 4 July 2014, the decision would have been made within the 56 day limit. He took into consideration The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order at the time of the application and as revised in 2015 for planning applications which makes specific reference to payment by cheque, noting that they should be taken as payment. However, there is no provision in the GPDO for how payments generally, and payments by cheque in particular, should be handled, he noted. Without the statutory requirement he found it reasonable that the council should be able to choose the method of payment for prior approval applications. Therefore, the application was refused within the appropriate time and the appeal failed on this ground alone.
Opinion: This is another example of a discrepancy between the planning application regime and the prior approval application regime. It’s time this was looked at properly. Seriously.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 5.152