Six reasons why a planning permission may be worthless

8th February 2013

Planning law expert David Anderton, of Ansons Solicitors, has seen many planning permissions overturned or quashed.  David outlines six situations in which a planning permission may not be as watertight as it seems. 

  • Where an objector challenges the planning permission by judicial review and it is quashed.
    Such a challenge must be made promptly and in any event within 3 months, although the court can extend this time. For cases where there is a European element, for example where an environmental assessment is required, the requirement for promptness no longer applies

  • Where the site is registered as a town or village green after the grant of planning permission, preventing the development proceeding.
    Registration as a town or village green can be applied for at any time, so a grant of planning permission does not prevent an application being made subsequently.

  • Where a neighbour claims a nuisance which prevents the historic use of the land and premises.
    For example, where a factory had been operating without objection for years and then planning approval is given for housing next to the factory.  In the future there is nothing to prevent the new residents seeking to prevent nuisance by reason of say noise or odours from the factory. It is no defence that the residents chose to live near the existing nuisance.

  • Where a planning permission is granted for a barn conversion and during the building works the barn collapses.
    A new planning permission is required to rebuild and this may not be forthcoming, for example if the barn is in open countryside.

  • Where a planning permission contains pre-commencement conditions which have not been complied with.
    For example, if the pre-commencement condition says: “the ground floor levels of the building hereby permitted shall be agreed with the Local Planning Authority in writing before any work is commenced on the site”  and this is not done the consequence is the permission has not been implemented and the development is unlawful.

  • Where the subject of a planning permission, or the use authorised by a lawful development, may have been abandoned.
    For example a mixed use business, such as a scrapyard with ancillary sales of cars, is covered by a lawful development certificate.  If the use of land is changed to focus only on the sale of cars, then the new use is no longer lawful. It could only become lawful if either a new planning permission is obtained or the use continues without a break for 10 years.

Land-owners and developers need to take particular care in any of these situations.  Potential remedies may be available, and so it is advisable to seek expert advice.

For advice on any aspect of planning law, contact David Anderton on 01543 263456 or email for more information.