Planning & Environment

Great feedback from our seminars on planning conditions. Still time to book your place at the Edinburgh seminar next Thursday.

A consistent theme – admittedly egged on by me! – is disappointment/ frustration at the unwillingness of many planning officers to give applicants the opportunity to comment on draft conditions.

One delegate reported that there is a planning authority which has even stopped including planning conditions in the report to committee, which means the applicant only sees the conditions once the report is issued. Although another delegate said that very few applicants ask for the opportunity to comment on draft conditions.

Over the years more and more conditions are imposed on permissions; conditions have become lengthier and more complex (a recent condition had paragraphs a)-v)!); and there are increasing numbers of conditions which require to be discharged before development can commence.

In these circumstances, it seems odd that some planning officers are unwilling to provide applicants with an opportunity to assist in drafting conditions. After all, it is the applicant’s project, and the applicant (mostly) will know best how the conditions are likely to work, or not. Yes, with some applicants it may be a case of “give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile” (is there a metric equivalent?!!) – but what’s the harm in asking? Even in the worst case, there may be some useful feedback on the draft conditions.

The alternative is a section 42 application to vary the condition post consent – unnecessary formality for something that might not be contentious.

In contrast, it is standard practice in planning appeals for the appellant to be provided with an opportunity to comment on the draft conditions proposed by the planning authority.

It is also ironic that lawyers often spend a lot of time negotiating the terms of section 75 agreements, and the conditions, which can deal with much more important matters, receive little or no discussion.

Interested to hear views on this – especially from planning officers.

Neil Collar

Partner at Brodies LLP
Neil is a partner at Brodies LLP and consistently rated as one of Scotland’s leading planning lawyers. He is well known for both his planning inquiry advocacy and his advisory work. Neil has a particular interest in renewable energy developments.
Neil Collar