There is a difference between the limitations on the applicability of a permitted development right and the conditions imposed upon such developments, but that is for another day. Many people, planning authorities included, consider the conditions imposed on permitted development rights to be fixed for all time.
The most troubling condition on a Class Q approval is often the requirement to have the development completed within three years. However, an application under s73 can be used to extend that period, whether that is needed because the build process is taking longer than expected or perhaps the building has been marketed and sold to its eventual developer and that has similarly used up a significant part of the three year limit.
In a recent appeal, the issue was a little more complicated. The application for prior approval had been made and not determined. At the end of 56 days, where the LPA has not responded, prior approval is deemed to have been granted provided the proposed development does indeed benefit from the permitted development right. The owner was reluctant to take the risk of developing the property without any assurance and so applied to the planning authority for a certificate of lawfulness to confirm that the right did indeed apply. That certificate application was refused and appealed and then the process seemed to stall. There was a genuine risk that the Inspector would issue the certificate, confirming that the right to convert the building existed, only for the development time to run out. As it was, the Inspector’s decision was issued two years and nine months after the original prior approval application.
To manage this risk, whilst the certificate application was at appeal, a s73 application was submitted to obtain a new planning permission with a longer time period for completion. Since the planning authority didn’t accept that there was planning permission in the first instance, it swiftly refused that application. The subsequent appeal was then joined with the certificate appeal: If the Inspector granted the certificate they would also decide whether to extend the period for completion.
The Inspector readily accepted that they had that power. In the event, the planning authority held its ground on the availability of the right in the first instance but was content that if the Inspector allowed the certificate appeal then it would be pragmatic to allow the extended period for the development to actually be carried out. In the event, both appeals were allowed and the client now has a fresh three year period in which to convert the building.
If you require any assistance regarding permitted development right please feel free to contact our Real Estate Team.