Does the provision to renew a planning application simply by submitting a site plan and letter still exist? In these circumstances, is the application fee payable on the basis of the development proposed or on the basis of a variation of a condition at the £135 fee? BE.
Renewal of permissions before they have lapsed has been possible using powers set out in regulation 3(3) of the Town and Country Planning (Applications) Regulations 1988. As discussed previously in these columns, this provision does not seem to have been revoked.
The regulation states that applications may be made using a streamlined procedure whereby a letter setting out enough information to identify the permission that it is desired to renew is sufficient. However, some authorities have exercised their right under regulation 4 to require further information to be submitted. Many offer a facility for renewing a temporary permission in their own application forms.
There is no specific provision for renewal of temporary planning permissions in the 1APP range of standard planning application forms that become mandatory next April, although it is possible to use the format designed for removal of or changes to conditions. The fee is normally a £135 flat rate, but if a temporary permission has lapsed a full fee may be payable. GH.
A client was granted permission in 2004 for a block of 14 apartments, comprising eight single-bedroom and six two-bedroom flats. Although the description of the development refers to the numbers of units, the permission was not subject to any section 106 agreement and all conditions related to submission of details only. Our client is now about to start work but would like to change the top two flats into a single penthouse and alter the two-bedroom units to single bedrooms. Would these alterations require a fresh planning application? It is our understanding that the loss of units does not constitute development unless it is considered a material change of use that has planning consequences, such as the council establishing a problem with an insufficient number of small units. In this case, however, there are no policies preserving smaller units. FC.
I assume that the permission was granted following an outline application and the conditions applied related to the submission and approval of the usual reserved matters. In that case, the question is whether a reserved matters application incorporating the changes you describe may be made within the ambit of the original outline permission.
On the face of it, the altered unit sizes do not seem to be anywhere near significant enough for a local authority to aver that a fresh application is required. They appear not to pose any different amenity or policy issues than would have been apparent at the outline stage. Neither do the changes seem to raise any matters that need fresh consultation. GH.
I am looking for advice in circulars or regulations as to what the content and wording of the description of development in a planning application should be and what rights a local authority has to alter the wording. Can you help? GB.
I cannot find any prescriptive material in law or ministerial advice as to the content of this section of a planning application form. As will be well known to development control officers, this is often filled in too briefly or imprecisely. In other cases, the description given may attempt to put a gloss on certain aspects of the proposal.
It is well established that in disputes about what development has actually been requested or approved, it is the combination of evidence from submitted plans, information given in other parts of the form and other submitted material that will be taken into account.
While a local authority should not unilaterally alter an applicant's description, the Court of Session in Burgon v Highland Council  indicated that this could be permissible where it is found that the amendment does not alter its substance and objectors would not be prejudiced. In any other situation, it is imperative for a local authority to seek the agreement of the applicant to any revised wording. GH.
In reply to AG's query as to whether estate agency boards using reflective material fall within advertisement control, GH replied that if such advertisements are only illuminated by external sources such as street lighting or headlights this does not seem to bring them within control (Planning, 26 October, p25).
- The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007 state that an illuminated advertisement means one that is "designed or adapted to be illuminated by artificial lighting, directly or by reflection, and which is so illuminated whether continuously or from time to time". In my opinion, the wording "by reflection" and "from time to time" would put such boards in breach of the regulations. LC.
- I am still of the opinion that an advertisement cannot be said to be illuminated if this relies on a purely fortuitous external lighting source. Do any other readers have a view on the question? GH.