PLT Masthead 430

Comment and Analysis Masthead

Imposing pre-commencement conditions

Checklist 2 146x219Jane Linley looks at the effect of recently made regulations restricting local planning authorities from imposing pre-commencement conditions when granting planning permission.

At the end of January 2018 the Government published a consultation seeking views on draft regulations relating to the implementation of parts of section 100ZA of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990). This section was inserted by the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 and, when in force, will prohibit the grant of planning permission subject to a pre-commencement condition without the written agreement of the applicant to the terms of the condition, except in certain specified circumstances. The Government has been concerned that pre-commencement conditions - conditions which must be complied with before development or change of use can begin - can sometimes delay the delivery of development, drive up costs and are not always justified. 

Following the consultation, The Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 (Commencement No. 5) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/567) and The Town and Country Planning (Pre-commencement Conditions) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/566) have been made. They should be read together and come into effect on 1 October 2018, applying only to conditions on a planning permission granted or modified on or after that date.

The effect is that the local planning authority (LPA) must notify the applicant that it intends to impose a pre-commencement condition.

In most cases it is likely that the applicant and LPA will agree any necessary pre-commencement conditions as a result of relatively informal exchanges. However, if this is not the case,  the LPA or the Secretary of State (as the case may be) can give notice in writing to the applicant that, if planning permission is granted, it intends to grant that permission subject to the pre-commencement condition specified in the notice. The notice must include:

  • The text of the proposed pre-commencement condition
  • The full reasons for the proposed condition, set out clearly and precisely
  • The full reasons for the proposed condition being a pre-commencement condition, set out clearly and precisely
  • Notice that any substantive response must be received by the local planning authority or the Secretary of State (as the case may be) no later than the last day of the period of ten working days beginning with the day after the date on which the notice is given.

If the applicant agrees to the proposed pre-commencement condition in writing or does not respond at all within ten working days of the notice, then the proposed condition can be imposed.

However, if the applicant does not agree, the pre-commencement condition/s can’t be imposed. The LPA can then refuse planning permission or grant it without the imposition of the pre-commencement condition/s.

It is therefore important for applicants and LPAs to discuss planning conditions at an early stage in the process. The Government stresses that the need to agree pre-commencement conditions with applicants will not prevent LPAs seeking to impose conditions that are necessary but it will mean that LPAs need to be clear at an early stage as to their reasons for wanting to impose these.

Jane Linley is a solicitor and Head of the Planning and Environmental Law Team at  nplaw. She can be contacted on 01603 223811 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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