Planning & Environment

Discharge of planning conditions seems to be a real bugbear at the moment for developers and their advisers. I’ve had this message from various sources recently expressing concern about significant delay.

And often when confirmation of discharge is issued, the terms are so unclear or qualified, that a funder or purchaser would be reluctant to accept them, leaving the developer to go back to the planning authority to try again.

No doubt lack of resources causes much of the delay, but why is it difficult to get a clear and unambiguous discharge? Is it partly down to a nervousness that something will go wrong, and the officer will be blamed further down the line? Or is it down to the overly complicated and lengthy sets of pre-commencement conditions that we now routinely see?

I was recently made aware of a wind farm case where the developer had to take a series of appeals against refusal and non-determination of applications to discharge conditions. I understand that this culminated in judicial review proceedings being raised due to the developer’s frustration with the lack of progress, albeit these were ultimately settled. An extreme case, but is it indicative of a trend?

Karen Hamilton

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