What is Planning Permission?

building plans blue prints

Once you receive planning permission, it is important to look at the attached conditions. Should you overlook them, then there could be problems ahead.

Planning conditions are essentially the small print that comes with the document confirming that permission has been granted. In fact there are always some conditions with every successful planning application. They say that the devil lies in the detail, and that is certainly true with planning. If you are purchasing a plot that already has planning permission, then it is essential to fully understand the conditions that are attached, and not only to understand them; you must also ensure that you are able to satisfy or discharge them.

If you fail to abide by the conditions then your planning consent could be ruled invalid including any work that might have already been carried out.

In order to discharge the conditions attached to your planning consent you are obliged to write to the local authority prior to starting any work. The conditions can cover a wide range of items, but generally they concern aspects of materials, boundaries and landscaping. They also stipulate a latest time for commencement of the work.


Pre-application Conditions

The pre-application process varies amongst local authorities, so you are advised to check with your local authority exactly what is required. It is likely that you will need a flood risk assessment, archaeological survey, perhaps a wildlife survey, and possibly a survey on local car parking arrangements.

You will need to finance these, and your costs are non-recoverable.


What are the costs?

Typically there is a charge of £97 for discharging conditions. This covers as many conditions as you wish to discharge in a single application. However if you make multiple requests then you will be charge £97 each time, and that could quickly mount up.

Although ideally you should make a single application, that isn’t always possible as there could be delays in obtaining the required information.

Additionally, not all conditions can be complied with before the work begins and some may stipulate how the work is carried out, and some can refer to the future use of the development and possible future changes.


Deemed discharge of conditions

Assuming that it has received you fee, the local authority is obliged to process your application to discharge conditions with 8 weeks. Should it fail to do so, then you will be granted a discharge if you submit a ‘deemed discharge notice’. You can submit this from six weeks after applying for discharge.


Time Conditions

It is important to take account of the condition that states how long the consent will remain valid. Generally outline planning consents are valid for three years, and during that time you will need to obtain detailed planning consent, formally referred to as ‘approval of reserved matters’. Once that has been granted you then will generally have two years in which to commence the work.

Although that might seem to be ample time, it can create considerable pressure as deadlines get close. However there is another problem that you should understand.

Should your detailed planning application take longer than the original three year period and then fail, the original outline planning consent is also likely to have run out. If this happens you may need to start the process all over again. Thus it is clear that you need to look very carefully at time conditions when you are purchasing land with planning consent.

Not all planning consents involve this process of outline followed by detailed planning applications. Often there is only a single full planning application which, once granted and the conditions discharged, allows you to start work immediately subject to Building Regulations. Full planning permissions are usually valid for three years.



Frequently as part of the conditions local authorities request details and samples of the materials that you intend to use, and these must be supplied prior to consent being granted. This must be backed up by a formal letter discharging the conditions.


Code for Sustainable Homes

The code for sustainable homes sets out how new homes must be designed and constructed in order to reduce their environmental impact. This is embraced by most local planning authorities and is usually a condition for receiving consent on a dwelling. In many cases compliance with building regulations will suffice, but it is important to check.


Parking and Driveways

Generally there is a condition that related to how parking spaces and driveways are surfaced. You may be required to provide drainage that ensures water won’t be diverted to the carriageway and that the work doesn’t damage tree roots and their irrigation.



You will need to provide details of walls and fences in advance of any work being carried out. This might also apply to planned changes to hedges.


Trees and Landscaping

Frequently certain trees will have to be protected. Conditions may also stipulate how the surrounding area should be landscaped and trees planted. You may also be required to provide details on the future maintenance of the scheme.

Note that this means you are able to reclaim VAT on the materials used including plants, trees etc.



Your planning application will include details regarding the way in which surface water and foul drainage are disposed of. Generally local authorities also require further more detailed drawings showing the exact arrangements that will be made. These must be approved prior to any work commencing, which could technically delay the installation of services until the conditions has been cleared.


Permitted Development Rights

Permitted development rights stipulate the kind of changes you can make to a building that don’t require a planning application. While these are defined in law, it is possible that they could be changed as a condition of the consent.

Such limitations are usually restricted to buildings on sensitive sites, and generally for good reason. But should this be the case it is important to bear in mind that even small changes such a building a garden shed might require planning permission.


Appealing Against a Condition

You can appeal against the imposition of a condition that you object to or it refuses to remove a condition that you believe you have satisfied.

However before you lodge a formal appeal you should talk to your local authority informally, as often these problems can be resolved harmoniously. But if this fails, then you make an appeal online through the government planning appeal portal.