In a recent letter, the Chief Planner has confirmed that, from 1 October 2018, planning permission may not be granted subject to a pre-commencement condition without the written agreement of the applicant - except in special circumstances set out in the relevant regulations.
A pre-commencement condition is defined for this purpose as a ‘condition imposed on a grant of planning permission (other than a grant of outline planning permission) which must be complied with a) before any building or operation comprised in the development is begun, or b) where the development consists of a material change of use of any buildings or other land, before the change of use is begun’. In practice, this often covers conditions relating to materials and landscaping etc., the details of which need to be agreed before starting a development.
In line with existing good practice, the government expects that in most cases, local planning authorities and applicants (or their agents) will discuss the range of planning conditions (including any pre-commencement conditions) that will need to be imposed, during the course of the application and before a final decision is made. It is expected that the local planning authority will share any draft pre-commencement conditions at the earliest possible opportunity. If the applicant/ agent confirms their agreement to a pre-commencement condition in writing, that pre-commencement condition can be imposed, and the procedures set out in the Regulations do not apply.
However, where a local planning authority has not been able to obtain written agreement to a proposed pre-commencement condition, it may decide to serve a notice, in accordance with the relevant Regulations, which must include the proposed text of the pre-commencement condition, the full reason for that condition, why it needs to be a pre-commencement condition and a date by which a response must be received (10 working days), otherwise the local authority may impose the condition without the written agreement of the applicant.
This detailed process is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Pre-commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018 and Planning Practice Guidance.
If you have any questions about the process of imposing pre-commencement conditions or an application that might be affected, please do not hesitate to contact us.