Today is the day the Town and Country Planning (Pre-commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) comes into force (1 October 2018). This is proposed to create efficiency and speed up the development process.

So what does it mean and are the local planning authority (LPA) allowed to impose pre-commencement conditions now?

Firstly it only applies to planning permissions granted on or after the 1 October 2018.

Secondly, although planning permission for the development of the land in question may not now be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition without the written agreement of the applicant, this does not apply in certain circumstances where the LPA (or Secretary of State) gives notice to an applicant that they intend to grant the permission subject to pre-commencement conditions.

This notice must include:

  • the text of the proposed pre-commencement condition
  • the full reasons for the proposed condition, set out clearly and precisely
  • the full reasons for the proposed condition being a pre-commencement condition, set out clearly and precisely
  • notice that any substantive response must be received by the LPA (or Secretary of State as the case may be) no later than 10 working days later.

On receipt of such notice an applicant can:

  • provide written agreement to the proposed pre-commencement condition
  • provide comments (within the 10 working days) on the proposed pre-commencement condition (in which case the condition cannot be imposed)
  • choose to remain silent and accept the pre-commencement condition
  • disagree with the pre-commencement condition.

If it is a disagreement, the LPA may then either:

  • grant planning permission without the pre-commencement condition
  • seek written agreement to an alternative pre-commencement condition, or
  • refuse to grant permission (if it considers that the disputed pre-commencement condition is necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms).

Planning conditions will often be an irritation for developers but now developers need to be mindful that if served within notice under these Regulations they will only have 10 working days to respond and failure to do so means that they could have a pre-commencement condition that they didn’t agree to. Whether this speeds up, and improves, development, creates efficiency or is an unwelcome administrative burden for LPAs which dilutes their ability to adequately control developments is something only time will tell.