Cross it off the list

No doubt it is invariably with the best of intentions that planning authorities attach planning conditions to planning permissions, but they do not always pass the scrutiny of planning inspectors. Going by a recent appeal case (DCS Number 400-024-078), the type which requires the retention of specified materials might be one to cross off the standard conditions list, and at the very least merits careful consideration before use.

In this case an inspector deleted a condition requiring the colour and type of external wall insulation at an existing semi-detached house in Warwickshire to be maintained, finding it neither necessary or reasonable. In considering the effect that deletion might have on the character and appearance of the area, the inspector was unconvinced that other finishes or colours at the dwelling would fail to harmonise with or enhance the varied street scene.

The council suggested that the condition was reasonable on the basis that the appellant had specified the product in the original application. The inspector reasoned, however, that whilst specifying proposed materials and finishes in an application is commonplace, the requirement, through a planning condition, for the retention of those materials and finishes is not justified unless there are sound planning reasons. She pointed out that the Planning Practice Guidance makes clear that conditions should be kept to a minimum and must satisfy the six tests, which include being necessary and reasonable. Moreover, it makes clear that even a condition suggested by or agreed to by the applicant should not be used unless it satisfies the six tests.

The council also contended that, because there is a procedure for dealing with any need to vary the terms of a condition, through the submission of an application, it did not prejudice the appellant or future occupiers. The inspector disagreed, given that the requirement to submit a planning application is onerous and carries a cost. Furthermore, the outcome cannot be guaranteed. It appeared to her that if, in the absence of the condition, changes could be made to the property without an application then that condition was an encumbrance which was not justified.

The inspector recorded that the PPG advises that area-wide or blanket removal of freedoms to carry out small scale domestic and non-domestic alterations that would otherwise not require an application for planning permission are unlikely to meet the tests of reasonableness and necessity. She considered that the same reasoning applied where such freedoms were removed from one dwelling, without a clear justification, whilst others nearby continued to benefit.

Section 4.4261 of DCP Online concerns the curtailment of later exercise of planning rights.