Extending the life of existing planning permissions

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01 October 2009

A new procedure introduced to extend the life of some existing planning permissions, may not be the panacea it might at first seem to be.

From 1 October 2009 developers can apply to the Local Planning Authority ("LPA") to extend the life of either full or outline permission, for any size of development, provided that:

  • it was granted on or before 1 October 2009
  • in the case of full permission, development has not yet commenced or, in the case of an outline permission, it has not yet expired.

If an extension of time is granted, this will be a new permission but the description of the development and all conditions other than the time limit will remain the same as the original permission.

With many developments on hold in the current economic climate, and following

  • the reduction of the default time limit for implementation of planning permissions (from 5 to 3 years for full planning permissions); and
  • the removal of the ability to use section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to extend the life of planning permissions (except in Wales where this is still available),

the new procedure is intended to save many planning permissions from expiring before they can be implemented.

Planning Merits

Importantly, applications for extensions of time will be determined on planning merits. Where there have been changes of policy, or other material changes in circumstances, an application for an extension application may be refused. As always, pre-application discussions with the LPA could be helpful in identifying any potential problems and professional advice should be sought where necessary.

If there are material changes in circumstances which would necessitate additional or different planning conditions, it is not yet clear whether LPAs will be able to impose these conditions, or whether they will instead have to refuse the application for an extension and require a new planning application to be made instead.

A new section 106 agreement (or a variation to the previous one) may be required in appropriate circumstances.

Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") Development

Permission granted for extensions of time involving EIA development will be a Development Consent under the EIA Regulations, so LPAs should give screening opinions and require EIA if necessary.

Details to accompany applications

Although plans, drawings and access statements are not required with applications, notification of owners and publicity requirements remain the same as for ordinary planning applications.

How soon should an application be made?

Merely making an application does not stop time running so plenty of time should be allowed for the application to be processed before the permission expires. However, it may be possible for the LPA to determine applications for permissions which expire whilst the application is being processed.


Due to changes in the nature of the proposal following consultation, the Government has been unable to co-ordinate introduction of this new procedure with changes to the Fees Order, so in the short term fees for these applications are as if it is a new planning application. A flat fee scheme should be introduced later this year (following further consultation) at around £50 for householder applications, £500 for major developments and £170 for other developments.

Further Guidance

Further guidance will also be published later this year but, until then, the draft guidance in the consultation paper still applies, available from the DCLG website.

For further information please contact

Jim Ryan on 0117 902 6689 or email: jim.ryan@burges-salmon.com

Sophie Traylen on 0117 307 6966 or email: sophie.traylen@burges-salmon.com

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