What are Planning Conditions?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold an MA in Planning and work as a Planning Consultant

If you have successfully received approval for your project more often than not there are planning conditions attached at the bottom of the decision letter. Some of these conditions are pretty standard, for instance, the approval only applies to the submitted plans. Furthermore, the development must begin within a set time period. Now in some cases, those may be the only conditions attached to the planning permission. However, this is only the case for some of the most simple and basic projects. You may need to submit a Discharge of Conditions application to complete the development. Below is an example of the type of additional conditions which can be added to a planning approval letter.

Materials Planning Conditions

Depending on the type of building the level of detail required on the materials proposed varies. For instance a planning application for an extension to a standard mid-20th-century building. Within the elevation plans, it may simply state, walls, roof and window details to match existing. There may be a bit more details on the eaves and ‘windows made from white PVC’ but generally, the local authority may accept those material details as sufficient. 

Windows Discharge of Conditions
You may need to provide more details on the materials used for fenestration (windows) via a discharge of conditions application.

However, applications for new buildings or anything with regards to a listed building or a building within a conservation area is a different matter. Significantly more detail on the proposed materials will be required. If there is sufficient time before the 8 week determination period the local authority may request those details. If not and they are happy with the proposal in general, approve the scheme but attach materials conditions. For instance, they could state that details on the windows need to be submitted and approved before they can be installed. This type of application is called a Discharge of Conditions.

How much does it Cost to Submit a Discharge of Conditions Application?

A discharge of conditions application is an additional cost. Hence one of the reasons if possible you want to get as many aspects of the proposal agreed as part of the original planning approval. As of 2019 for Householder Planning Applications the charge is £34 per request. Therefore, if you have a lot of conditions, try to provide the details to approve as many of them in one go as possible. It will save you both time and money. The local authority planning department has another 8 weeks to determine the discharge of conditions. If your application is not a householder application but a full (minor) planning application the cost to discharge a condition is £116 as of 2019.

What should I Include in a Discharge of Conditions Application?

Again as stated above, the level of detail is specific to each application. For instance, some conditions may just request the paint colour of the windows to be submitted. For a listed building, you may need to submit detailed drawings on the design of the windows, individual materials and paint colour.

If you have a particular brand of window or door you wish to use, using pictures from a brochure can be an easy way to provide the detail required. Generally with a discharge of conditions using photographs/images is the simplest means to provide clear information on design details. The planning officer who dealt with the original application should be able to provide feedback on specifically what information they are looking for. It’s important to remember, clear and precise information can help the officer to determine the application as quickly as possible.

What is a Variation/Removal of Condition Application

There may be a condition attached to your planning approval which you are not happy with or you feel is no longer viable. This could be a condition relating to the materials used on a project, or the use of the building. There are so many scenarios for a variation or removal of conditions, so I’ll use my own home as an example. 

My home was previously a dwelling in the 1950s which my grandparents lived in. They received permission to build a new dwelling within the same curtilage. A condition was attached that the original dwelling could no longer be used as a home. The reason being the properties are located in the Green Belt, and we will get into Green Belt policy in later posts. When I came to renovate the building back into a dwelling I had to address the condition. Therefore I offered and agreed to a new condition, that the building can only be used as a family annexe.

Voluntary Planning Conditions
I volunteered a planning condition in order to secure planning approval for my own dwelling.

In my particular case, I did not submit a removal of condition application. The full planning permission replaced the previous planning condition. The building required extensive renovation. Therefore, I needed to submit a full planning application. Otherwise, I would have just submitted a removal of condition application. The cost to submit a removal of condition application for minor operations is £234 as of 2019.

The above is obviously only a brief look into the subject of planning conditions. I will be writing more posts in the future on this topic as its extremely vast and varied.

Assistance with Discharge/Variation/Removal of Conditions

If you have planning conditions you need to discharge and need help with, please get in touch. There may be planning conditions as part of the planning history of your site which you are not even aware of. Being fully aware of your existing planning conditions is vital when designing and presenting new planning applications. Furthermore, if you want to try and remove or submit a variation to a planning condition. I will review the information and contact you for your free 30-minute phone consultation.