Last edited 26 Oct 2020

Deemed discharge of planning conditions

The Queen’s Speech on 4 June 2014 announced that an Infrastructure Bill would be introduced in the 2014-15 Parliamentary session. Amongst other provisions, the Bill would allow certain types of planning conditions in England to be discharged upon application if a local planning authority has not notified the developer of their decision within a prescribed time period.

This would mean that the local planning authority’s consent, agreement or approval of the condition would be deemed to have been given even if it did not have actual written approval. This is intended to improve the use of planning conditions and enable development to start more quickly after planning permission is granted. A deemed discharge would only apply to planning conditions that are attached to planning permission when it is granted that require the further approval of the local planning authority on matters of detail.

On 4 November 2014, the government announced that it would proceed with the introduction of measures allowing the deemed discharge of planning conditions. This followed a technical consultation on a range of proposals to streamline the planning system carried out between 31 July 2014 and 29 September 2014 which included consultation on the procedural detail of the deemed discharge measure.

The consultation proposed that deemed discharge would not apply automatically, but only after the applicant serves a notice on the local planning authority. It was proposed that the applicant should notify the local authority of its intention to activate a deemed discharge after a period of 6 weeks with a minimum notice period of 2 weeks.

The outcome of the consultation Deemed discharge of planning conditions: government response to consultation found that the proposed measure was broadly supported. However, there was some concern about the burden it would place on local authorities, with local authorities citing delays caused by third parties and resource constraints as reasons for delays. There was also a suggestion that the measure could divert focus from other planning priorities.

Nonetheless, the government confirmed its intention to introduce supporting secondary legislation on the procedural detail of a deemed discharge once the primary power is confirmed, with the following exemptions:

On 8 December 2014, during the second reading debate on the Infrastructure Bill, Transport Minister John Hayes suggested that planning conditions that conform with national planning policy might be exempt from the deemed discharge regime. Ref Parliament, Infrastructure Bill.

In April 2015, deemed discharge of planning conditions was introduced into the Town and County Planning Act 1990 by the Infrastructure Act 2015. Details of the provisions are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015.

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