Last edited 03 Jul 2017

How long does planning permission last

Before 1968, there was no limit on the duration of planning permissions. Between 1968 and 2009, the duration of a permission was generally set out in the conditions to the permission, often limited to 5 years within which time construction had to begin, although it was sometimes possible to extend this by applying to vary the condition.

However, since 2009, unless the permission states otherwise, development should begin within 3 years of the date permission was granted.

The development is considered to have begun ‘…on the earliest date that a "material operation" in connection with the development is started’, that is:

  • Any work of construction in the course of the erection of a building.
  • Any work of demolition of a building.
  • The digging of a trench which is to contain the foundations, or part of the foundations, of a building.
  • The laying of any underground main or pipe to the foundations, or part of the foundations, of a building or to any such trench as is mentioned (above).
  • Any operation in the course of laying out or constructing a road or part of a road.
  • Any change in the use of any land which constitutes material development.

Ref Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 56.

Lawfully commencing the development works may first involve satisfying conditions applied to the permission.

If the development has not commenced within three years, the permission will be considered to have expired, and if the applicant still wished to proceed with the development, they will need to renew the application. Renewal is generally less onerous than making a fresh application, but a fee is payable. If however, the conditions under which the original permission was granted have changed, it may be necessary to make a fresh application.

Once the development has commenced, the permission remains in place unless the local authority serve a completion notice. If such a notice is served, the development must then be completed within 12 months.

If an outline planning application has been made, then the relevant reserved matters applications must be made within three years. The permission will then last for a further 2 years.

See also: How long does it take to get planning permission.

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