Pre-agreed pre-decision?

Sometimes, the warm glow which a planning approval notice brings with it can cool on reading the conditions attached, especially if they are pre-commencement conditions with the potential to hold up the development. In these circumstances, it is worth reflecting on whether they were ever agreed to, as a recent appeal case shows (DCS Number 400-024-751).

In this case the appellants were disputing six conditions attached to planning permission for the subdivision of a house in north London to two single family dwellings.

The inspector noted that the conditions were ‘pre-commencement’ conditions in that they were worded so as to prevent the commencement of the development until some other requirement of the condition was fulfilled. The council accepted that it had not obtained the agreement of the appellants to the imposition of these conditions. Therefore, the inspector found, there was a clear breach of the Town and Country Planning (Pre-Commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018 and ruled that the conditions should not have been imposed as drafted.

Nevertheless, the inspector went on to assess the planning justification for the conditions and, where they fulfilled a planning purpose and met the normal tests set out in national guidance, he imposed new conditions where the ‘enforcement’ test was the occupation of the new dwelling. Such wording, he explained, would not hold up the main implementation of the development already permitted.

Some background to the pre-commencement conditions regulations can be found at section 4.425 of DCP Online.