In the case of any proposal there is therefore a two-stage test: “is the proposal development at all?” and, if the proposal is development, “is it permitted development?” Only if a development is not permitted development would an application for planning permission be required. An application for planning permission should be made to the local planning authority (LPA).
The law requires that all applications for planning permission should be decided in accordance with the policies of the “development plan” – unless material planning considerations indicate otherwise. The decision on any planning application is therefore “policy-led” rather than “influence-led”. Although the public and nearby residents will be consulted about almost any planning application, the decision will not be made on the grounds of popularity or unpopularity. The framing of the decision by reference to published planning policy prevents the decision on a planning application being made on grounds which are arbitrary, perverse, or subject to impropriety.
Types of application
A number of different types of planning permission can be applied for:
- Full planning permission: A full planning permission would grant permission for all aspects of the proposed development, although it would generally be subject to various conditions (see below).
- Outline planning permission: Outline planning permission cannot be granted for a proposed change in the use of land or buildings. It might be appropriate when an applicant is seeking an agreement “in principle” to a proposed development, without being committed to a particular form of design or layout.
- Approval of “reserved matters” Seeking permission for those aspects that were not dealt with in an outline planning permission or seeking approval of aspects of a development which were reserved by a planning condition in an earlier grant of full planning permission.
- Renewal of planning permission: This would arise when an earlier outline or full planning permission was subject to a time-limiting condition which has since expired. In essence this requires the entire planning application to be reviewed in light of current rather than previous planning policies. Applications for renewal of an earlier planning permission are usually granted anew, unless there has been a significant change in the relevant material considerations which are to be weighed in the decision.
- Removal or alteration of a planning condition: As a matter of law, conditions should only be imposed on a grant of planning permission when compliance with that condition is essential to make an unacceptable development acceptable – so it would be refused planning permission were it not for that condition. If the applicant or developer wished to proceed with a development without compliance with a condition, or perhaps with the condition in an alternative form, then an application can be made to “vary” the condition concerned – possibly by deleting it or offering an alternative form of words. Note that the LPA cannot alter any planning condition which imposes a time limit when the development is to be commenced. That would require a re-application for full or outline planning permission, but since October 2009 it has been possible to apply to extend an existing consent.
Planning permissions are usually granted subject to a planning condition which requires the development to be commenced within three years. Typically they will also include a number of other conditions, for example the scheme to be built in accordance with the approved drawings, trees to be planted as per the landscape scheme and replaced if they die in the first few years, or the colour and finish of external materials to be approved by the local authority. Some of these will need to be complied with before any work starts on site; others will take effect once the development is commenced, or later.
Most conditions imposed on a granted planning permission in Kent will relate to implementation of works within the actual site of the application (the edges of which must be defined by a red line marked on an accurately scaled map of the site, usually an Ordnance Survey extract, accompanying the application).