In March, we posted a blog about the guidance in the NPPG (in the "Use of Planning Conditions" section) on negatively worded conditions which prevent development until a s.106 planning agreement has been entered into (so-called Grampian conditions). According to the NPPG, such conditions may be appropriate for "more complex and strategically important development where there is clear evidence that the delivery of the development would otherwise be at serious risk". The NPPG also qualifies the prohibition on conditions that require payment of money or other compensation, acknowledging that such conditions may be possible if negatively worded.

We have had a number of experiences of using Grampian conditions since the introduction of the NPPG, usually in order to hit deadlines. Such conditions can be of great benefit in enabling developers to finalise a promotion agreement or start discharging conditions to ensure timely delivery of the development. The NPPG indicates that the six tests must also still be met and so the parties will need to be clear on the content of the s.106 (in particular to meet the test of precision) and it may be desirable to attach a substantially agreed copy of the s.106 to the planning permission.

It should be remembered that the NPPG provides guidance only and there is, as yet, no statutory control restricting the use of Grampian conditions. However, in contrast to the previous uncertainty over whether such conditions could properly be used, it is helpful to have a clear statement to point to which acknowledges that they may be appropriate in some circumstances.