Planning conditions – what are they?


Congratulations! You obtained planning – but wait…. the nasty planning officer has imposed some conditions on the planning approval – how dare they!!

This article will help explain what they are, what you need to do and what you can do if you do not like them! The only permission that cannot have conditions is a lawful development certificate.

Please remember Planning Geek can help you. Get in touch today.

Planning conditions what are they and what should you do?


Should be kept to a minimum

Any conditions should be relevant to the permission that has been granted.

Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that planning conditions should be kept to a minimum, and only used where they satisfy the following tests:

  1. Necessary
  2. Relevant to planning
  3. Relevant to the development permitted
  4. Enforceable
  5. Precise
  6. Reasonable in all other respects

These are referred to in this guidance as the 6 tests, and each of them need to be satisfied for each condition which an authority intends to apply.

The Planning Advisory Services sums these up well, so we will not repeat them here. This page will open in a new tab.


Different forms of conditions

As a general rule these will be broken down into the following..

  • General Conditions that must be met in order to complete the build
  • Pre-commencement Conditions
  • Conditions during construction
  • Pre-occupation Conditions
  • Conditions on using the building
  • Conditions on how you can alter the building
  • Conditions after occupation for monitoring and management

There maybe a few others, but the vast majority will fit into one of the above. Not all of these will apply to every decision. Remember, a condition can be on any decision notice except a certificate of lawfulness.

It is important that you read each condition carefully.

Once you have identified how each condition affects the build or conversions etc., make a start on any pre-commencement conditions.

Failure to make the conditions extant and to make a material start by the date in the decision notice could well mean that your planning will lapse. Don’t miss that deadline. The clock doesn’t stop ticking!


Pre-commencement conditions

A pre-commencement condition is one which must be complied with:

  • before any building or operation which is part of the development has started
  • where the development consists of a material change of use of any buildings or other land, before the change of use begins

If it is a full planning application the local authority planning department (LPA) must notify you in advance and give you 10 days to respond explaining their reason. If you do not respond with a substantive reply, the LPA may go ahead and impose these pre-commencement conditions without your consent. We have in the past got the LPA to avoid certain pre-commencement conditions until after a demolition,as it would make the required report hard to obtain. Note that if you do not agree, the LPA may refuse the application. This is why having a good planning consultant is key.

It is important that you read each condition carefully. Especially pre-commencement conditions. These must be complied with prior to making the planning extant.

However you may only need to do part of any pre-commencement conditions. For example it might say that a Construction Management Plan must be submitted and approved by the local authority before development starts. But it may also say that samples of the roof tiles must be submitted to the local authority before development starts. The big difference is that on the second condition, you can make a material start once submitted. You do not need to wait for approval. Reading them all is key.

A variation on pre-commencement might be that these are split into pre-development and pre-construction. Pre-construction might allow for demolition to take place, but pre-development would prevent anything from happening until conditions are met.

Pre-commencement conditions should be dealt with promptly and within 8 weeks. A fee is payable for these. If the conditions have not been discharged within 12 weeks, the local authority must return the fee (not applicable to prior approval or reserved matters). The fee is per application for discharge rather than per condition. Multiple conditions can be dealt with together.


Discharging conditions

if you have any conditions which require information to be sent to the LPA and maybe agreed by them, you will need to discharge these conditions. This can take a number of weeks. So the earlier you do this the better.  At this time, you might want to think about CIL (if it hasn’t already been dealt with) and building regs.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to discharge any conditions. Although Planning Geek can of course help.

You need to allow at least 8 weeks for the process. But in reality I would allow at least 12 or 16 if possible. The longer the better. In fact I would recommend actioning as soon as the planning is granted.

The cost is £43 for a householder condition or £145 for all others. Note that multiple conditions can be discharged at once for the same fee. Fees are correct as of May 2024.


Removing a condition that you do not agree with!

If you wish to remove a condition you have two choices. One you can appeal to the inspectorate to have it removed. This must be within 12 weeks for a householder application or 6 months otherwise. However, and this is important, the entire application will be considered by the inspectorate. This might mean new conditions or even a refusal of the application. Although this is rare.

Your other option is to apply for a Section 73 to have that pesky condition removed or altered. If that is granted then you will get a new planning decision notice. As far as we know there is not time limit for this. If this is refused you can then apply to the inspectorate on this refusal. Note that neighbours are usually re-consulted as part of the process.

As you can see a S73 might be easier, especially as the initial wait for an appeal can be weeks if not months. More details on appeals can be found here.

You can find out more about a Section 73 here.


What if the local authority doesn’t respond? 

There are various options open to you. These will be dealt with in a new article to follow. In the meantime please contact Planning Geek for advice here.




Page Updated: 14th May 2024