Government proposes 10-day pre-commencement agreement limit

The government has said it will introduce a default period of 10 days after which an applicant's agreement would be deemed to be given to any pre-commencement conditions attached to a planning consent, as part of its push to 'address the inappropriate use' of such conditions.

Development: government wants to restrict use of planning conditions
Development: government wants to restrict use of planning conditions

The government intends to introduce measures to restrict the use of pre-commencement conditions via measures in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. As part of this, it published a consultation on its proposals in September.

Now, the government has issued a response to that consultation, which ended in November.

The document said that measures in it will "address the inappropriate use of pre-commencement planning conditions, [and] prohibit the use of other types of planning conditions which do not meet the tests in the National Planning Policy Framework".

The document said that a proposed new requirement for councils to seek the written agreement of applicants for the imposition of certain pre-commencement conditions will be implemented, despite opposition.

But it said that this will be balanced by "default period, after which an applicant’s agreement would be deemed to be given" in order to avoid undue delays.

"Many respondents stressed the importance of ensuring that a default period was as short as possible to not hold up the determination of applications", the document said.

"We believe this point should be balanced with allowing a meaningful time for applicants to consider the pre-commencement conditions proposed by the local authority. We therefore propose a default period of 10 working days, in addition to the ability for local authorities to agree a longer timescale with the applicant."

The document also said that the government will push ahead with its plan to prohibit specific types of planning conditions.

It said that the government noted that many respondents "stated that the guidance was already sufficient without provision being made in legislation".

However, it added, "we believe it is necessary to help ensure that conditions applied by local planning authorities meet the six policy tests in the National Planning Policy Framework. We intend to do this through secondary legislation, expressly prohibiting [certain conditions]".

Conditions listed by the consultation which are likely to be banned include those which "unreasonably impact on the deliverability of a development - e.g. disproportionate financial burden"; conditions which "reserve outline application details"; conditions "which require the development to be carried out in its entirety", and conditions "which duplicate a requirement for compliance with other regulatory requirements".

The document added that the government recognised the "need to provide greater clarity on the detail of the conditions we propose to prohibit and this will be set out in draft regulations".

"We will therefore carry out a further consultation on the draft regulations, as well as preparing updated guidance to support this measure, should the Bill provisions come into force", the document said.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill will begin its progress through the House of Lords in January.


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