“We have previously discussed the strict time limit that local planning authorities (LPAs) have to determine prior approval applications under permitted development rights (PDRs) for the change of use of agricultural buildings to residential dwellings and to ‘flexible’ commercial uses; and offices and storage buildings to residential dwellings. An appeal decision and costs award issued since our last article makes it worth revisiting”, says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.
Dinnis summarises, “under the PDRs procedure an applicant needs to apply to their LPA for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required. The LPA then has 56 days following the date on which they receive the application to decide if prior approval is required and, if it is, whether approval is given or refused. Weekends, public holidays and delays in registering applications have no effect on the time limit. If a site meets the qualifying criteria under the PDRs and the authority is out of time then deemed planning permission is automatically granted.”
The issue has been considered in a number of planning appeals that have been allowed by Planning Inspectors where LPAs refused applications outside the 56 day period. It has also been considered in an appeal that included an application for costs against the LPA. In that case, the LPA did not accept that it was out of time in issuing a refusal. The LPA also claimed that the building did not qualify for change of use to a dwelling under the PDRs and that the proposal would result in unacceptable highway impacts. The Inspector held that the LPA did not issue its decision during the statutory period; the building was eligible for change of use; and that it was not necessary to consider highway impacts because the LPA’s decision was out of time. The Inspector also found that the LPA behaved unreasonably in failing to accept that 56 day period had elapsed and had caused the applicant to incur the unnecessary costs of going to appeal. In allowing the appeal, the Inspector also ordered the LPA to pay the applicant’s full costs of the appeal proceedings.
“This case reinforces the correct approach to the 56 day time limit and the importance of checking whether or not any refusals of PDRs prior approval applications are outside the time limit. It also provides a reminder that the appeal regime provides Planning Inspectors with powers to award costs against a party who has acted unreasonably and caused unnecessary expense”, adds Dinnis.
For specialist advice on rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 214052 or at email@example.com.