Pre-commencement conditions (also sometimes called details reserved by condition) can take numerous forms, and despite government discouragement from using them unnecessarily, some planning permissions/consents can have a very large number of them. As many of these conditions have very detailed technical requirements, which require the input of technical specialists, they can be expensive to discharge. Because they do not affect local authority decision targets, many local authorities place very little priority on giving decisions on these types of applications within a reasonable time-frame. Due to this, they can prove a real headache for developers, but are an essential process to follow in order to ensure that the development is authorised.
Fortunately, Vitality Planning and Design have considerable experience at discharging pre-commencement conditions. Our planning consultant dealt with hundreds of these types of applications whilst working as a Planning Officer at four different London Councils, during which he developed expertise at dealing with a wide variety of different types of pre-commencement conditions within short time-frames. This knowledge will be applied to dealing your pre-commencement conditions by utilising this "insider knowledge" and understanding to communicate effectively with the relevant gatekeepers inside and outside the Council, and respond to their requests for additional/amended information as needed.
The following types of planning conditions we can deal with entirely in-house:
- Details/Samples of External materials - Soft and Hard landscaping Plans - Parking and transport reports/details - Details of Boundary Treatments - Location and details of refuse and recycling storage areas and/or secure cycle storage units/areas
The following types of planning conditions we can deal with, but will require the input of specialists, due to their highly technical nature. Their cost is not included in our charges, but we will charge proportionately less due to these additional costs, and we will help you find suitable specialists to help with these conditions:
- Tree Protection Plans and other measures related to protecting trees of amenity value - Contaminated land assessments and details of remediation (when needed) - Details of Carbon Dioxide Emission reduction measures - Water and/or energy use efficiency reduction measures - Sound/light/dust emission reductions details, plans and reduction measures
Neither of these lists are exhaustive collections of all types of pre-commencement conditions, but they are some of the most common conditions used. If you have unusual pre-commencement condition/s which you would like help with discharging, please contact us and we will happily advise you on the necessary steps.
Our pre-commencement condition service consists of three main stages:
A - Preparation and submission of information to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) B – Responding to and liaising with the LPA during the planning application process C - Post-application advice
Below is a discussion of what is involved in each stage.
Preparation and submission of information to the LPA
This stage consists of conducting the required research, recruitment and employment of specialists (when required), production of the relevant details/reports/evidence and submitting the documents, along with an application form and fee.
The first step here is conducting the required research. Where the work is done in-house, we can work to agreed, guaranteed time-scales, which helps ensure we deliver this service to you within a prompt and punctual time-frame. Where external specialists are required, we will help you source people with the technical expertise needed, will liaise and directly work with them on your behalf, and will assist in encouraging them to deliver the research and submission materials punctually.
The next step is the production of the submission materials, which can be physical samples, catalogues, reports, surveys or other evidence. The appropriate materials will be based on our research (for in-house production), and on your agreement on what details you consider appropriate for your development.
Once the submission materials are agreed and produced, we will submit the materials to the LPA, including the application form and application fee (please note that you will need to pay the application fee). If this involves physical samples, we will deliver the materials in person at the LPA's office, to ensure that the samples are not lost in transit.
Responding to and liaising with the LPA during the planning application process
The next stage is where we work pro-actively and cooperatively with the LPA in order to help obtain a quick and positive decision for your pre-commencement conditions. It involves us making enquiries, responding to the LPA's queries, monitoring the progress of the application and providing additional information when required.
It is possible that the Council planning officer will request alterations to the details provided during the assessment period. If this occurs, we will firstly consult you on the alterations requested, whether we consider their request to be reasonable or not, and an appropriate response. Following your decision, we will respond to the LPA's request for amended information with the information they require, or challenge them if the amendments requested are spurious.
LPA's have been known to refuse pre-commencement condition applications when they could have easily requested additional and/or amended information that would resolve their concerns. In order to try to avoid this situation, and also so that we can keep you in the loop on your application's progress, we will correspond regularly with the LPA during the assessment period. Our regular contact can also help to prevent delays in the assessment period, thereby saving you time. Where delays are inevitable (often due to the LPA failing to provide adequate consultation for your application, which they are legally obliged to do), we will maintain pressure on the Council to reach a decision as quickly as possible, and let you know of our progress, thereby saving you stress.
In theory the submission of details pursuant to planning condition/s should be straightforward, and the details be discharged fully, quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, LPA's have the right to partially discharge pre-commencement conditions, discharge some fully, and refuse others, complicating what should be a relatively simple process. By employing us, you can maximise your chances of avoiding this situation.
The final stage involves us explaining to you in detail what the results of the decision are, what action (if any) is required and any other implications from them. With most applications, there are no further steps required, and the condition/s are fully discharged. Should there be further steps required, we will explain a series of options available, and recommend a course of action to complete these further steps.
In the unlikely event of a planning application being refused, we will advise you of different courses of action available and what they involve. We will draw up recommendations on the most appropriate way of resolving the issues with the pre-commencement condition information through a recommended course of action, and will happily assist you in pursuing your preferred course of action.
It is possible to appeal against a refusal to discharge pre-commencement conditions, as it is possible to appeal against most types of planning applications. We would recommend reading our "Been Refused Permission" page before embarking on this course. For more information on how we can help you with appeals against refusals of various types of consent, please click HERE