The new rules on the imposition of pre-commencement conditions on planning permissions come into force next week, on 1 October.

A pre-commencement condition is a condition which must be complied with either before any building or operation comprised in the development is begun, or before a material change of use occurs.

After 1 October the general rule is that full planning permission cannot be granted subject to pre-commencement conditions unless the applicant agrees to the condition being imposed. This new rule does not apply to outline planning permissions.

There will still be some circumstances where pre-commencement conditions can be imposed without the applicant’s consent. For example where a Council has not been able to obtain written agreement to a pre-commencement condition it would like to impose, it can serve a notice requiring a response must be received from the applicant within 10 working days. If the applicant still does not respond, the Council can impose the pre-commencement condition without consent.

The aim of this change in the law is to encourage Councils and applicants to discuss draft conditions early in the application process. While this is a positive move for developers because it facilitates transparency on proposed conditions early-on, it may cause issues for Councils who do not have sufficient resources to engage with this process. Applicants may only be given limited time to review draft conditions, and pressured to agree quickly. Time to negotiate and resolve issues with proposed conditions could be limited resulting refusal or delays in determination.