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P8.8: Planning Decision, Conditions & Obligations

The final committee report should clearly set out the recommendation being made, the reasons for the decision and any conditions or planning obligations that are to be imposed. ATLAS believes that “open” recommendations should be avoided. Any prerequisite to the issuing of a grant of permission i.e. resolution to grant subject to completion of a Section 106 and/or referral to the Secretary of State should be clearly set out as part of the recommendation. Agreed Heads of Terms or a draft obligation produced as a result of earlier discussions (preferably commencing at pre-application stage) should be made available to the Committee as an appendix to the committee report.

Relevant tests for the imposition of conditions are clearly set out in Government guidance (Circular 11/95). As with the preparation of the main report sufficient time should be set aside for the task of drafting of conditions and reasons in particular to ensure that they are relevant, robust and enforceable. Given the complexity of large scale developments it is advisable to give thought to the structure of the decision notice and the order and format of conditions imposed (for example grouping by type and nature – highways, landscaping etc, or by timescale; i.e. Grampian style conditions, on – going requirements, etc ).  Where necessary definitions should be incorporated  in much the same way as used in legal agreements. This will help to ensure that the applicant/developer, or those subsequently responsible for progressing the proposals, have a clear understanding of what is required to be discharged or complied with, as well as to aid the Authority in monitoring and possible enforcement.

Carefully drafted conditions are the key to maintaining engagement between the applicant/developer and the Authority after a permission is issued. Given the desire to achieve a quality outcome it is important that specific attention is given to conditions which relate to design quality matters; for example conditions which “fix” the commitments given and established by the Design & Access Statement, masterplan, and/or design codes and those which relate to specific detailing, use of materials etc. If there are special qualities in a scheme, or required in further detailed submissions, this will warrant some additional specific attention in the wording of conditions imposed. The need for certain mitigation measures or supporting infrastructure should also be incorporated as appropriate within conditions and/or planning obligations.

Following the introduction of the CIL Regulations on 6th April 2010, it is unlawful for a planning obligation to constitute a reason to grant planning permission unless it is: necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms; directly related to the development; and fairly and reasonable related in scale and kind to the development. National guidance regarding the use of planning obligations is now set out in the NPPF. 

The justification, negotiation and final drafting of conditions, planning obligations and background reasoning can itself have significant resource implications. The approach will need to be methodical in order to ensure appropriate controls and mechanisms are put in place including linkages to approved plans, and design material. Sufficient time for these tasks needs to be scheduled.

Once a decision is made and issued this needs to be confirmed and made public to various parties i.e. general public, interest groups and statutory consultees. In addition to normal requirements to place on the Statutory Register in some instances copies of the decision notice and any Section 106 will need to be provided to consultees.

Last Updated on Wednesday 02/10/2013 - 09:46AM

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Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS), 2017