‘Always read the small print’ – why understanding planning conditions is just as important as the approval itself

Case Studies

‘Always read the small print’ – why understanding planning conditions is just as important as the approval itself


When planning permission is granted, it is normally subject to a series of conditions, some of which require further approval from the council and some which don’t. One type of condition often applied is the removal of permitted development rights, thus preventing further development from taking place without the agreement of the council.

These restrictive conditions can sometimes affect the development in ways you hadn’t anticipated. However, these conditions can be appealed, just as a planning refusal can be appealed.

Understanding the conditions and the council’s motives for them can make all the difference in an appeal situation.

ET Planning recently supported a client who had received a planning approval for a single story rear home extension in Dorking, Surrey. However, a number of conditions were added including the removal of permitted development rights for the house to have roof enlargements and alterations under classes B and C of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (as amended).

The reason for including this condition was that Mole Valley District Council had concerns about roof enlargement development in the area which might affect the character of the neighbourhood.

As part of the appeal process two key points were raised. The first, made by ET Planning, referred to Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework, whereby a council cannot apply a condition that does not meet all six national tests. These are:

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

In this case the removal of permitted development rights for roof alterations had no relevance to an application for a single story rear extension – highlighting that the condition had not passed all six national tests.

The Inspector for the case accordingly noted that the “consideration has nothing at all to do with the development as currently proposed in this application. The correct procedure to follow would be to use an Article 4 Direction. The condition does not fairly and reasonably relate to the permitted development”.

The appeal has now been won and the conditions to the planning permission have been removed which means that the homeowner can now introduce a loft conversion, should they wish to, under permitted development rights without the need for planning permission from the Local Authority. 

This case highlights the importance of understanding the conditions of your planning permission. If you have received planning permission with conditions which you are unsure of, please contact ET Planning who would be happy to go through these with you.

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