Last edited 21 Jan 2016

Material amendment to planning permission

It is sometimes necessary to change development proposals after planning permission has been granted.

There are three ways that this can be dealt with:

  • Where they are not significant changes, they may be described as ‘non-material amendments’. Section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 permits applications for non-material amendment to existing planning permissions which remain subject to the original conditions and time limits.
  • Where changes are more significant, they may be described as 'minor material amendments'. Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, allows an application to be made to permit conditions associated with the original permission to be varied or removed. This can be used to vary a condition that lists the drawings associated with the existing planning permission. If there is no such condition, one may be added using an application under section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and then a section 73 application to vary that condition.
  • Where an amendment is considered to be a ‘material amendment’ a complete new planning application is required.

There is no statutory definition of what ‘minor material amendment’, ‘non-material amendment’ or ‘material amendment’ mean, instead, local authorities are responsible for deciding, given the local context in each case.

Guidance simply states that, ‘in deciding whether a change is material, a local planning authority must have regard to the effect of the change, together with any previous changes made’, and that, ‘minor material amendments are likely to include any amendment where its scale and/or nature results in a development which is not substantially different from the one which has been approved.’

Material amendments, for which a fresh application might be required could include:

  • Significantly increasing its size.
  • Changes to windows or other openings that impact on neighbouring properties.
  • Changes that alter the description of development.
  • Changes to the application site area.
  • Significant alterations to the design or the siting of the proposals.
  • Changes that would affect objections to the original proposal.

A new application is always required for changes to listed building consents and conservation area consents.

If an application for a non-material or minor material amendment is rejected, a new permission must then be sought, and this can result in significant delays. It is advisable therefore that pre-application discussions should be held before any application to amend a permission is submitted.

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