Monday, 8 June 2015
The 56-day rule – some additional points
NOTE: For completely up-to-date and fully comprehensive coverage of this subject, we would strongly recommend readers to obtain a copy of the author’s new book - “A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO PERMITTED CHANGES OF USE” published by Bath Publishing in October 2015. You can order your copy by clicking on the link on the left-hand sidebar of this page.
A couple of readers have written to me to draw attention to Article 7 of the GPDO. This is a new provision that did not appear in the 1995 Order.
There was no provision in the 1995 Order for any extension of time in respect of the determination of a prior approval application. However, Article 7 (after restating the basic rule that prior approval applications must be determined within 56 days) now allows the LPA to make a decision in relation to the application within such longer period as may be agreed by the applicant and the authority in writing (which could comprise an exchange of emails).
There is, of course, no obligation on the applicant to agree to such an extension of time, but if they do not do so a prudent authority might then refuse the application fairly promptly in order to avoid the 56-day rule coming into operation, thereby enabling the development to go ahead in any event. It is clear that any agreement to an extension of time would have to be explicit and unequivocal; it cannot be assumed or implied, nor can it be construed from only one side of a purported exchange of correspondence. A nil response from the applicant to the LPA’s a request for more time would not prevent time from continuing to run for the purposes of the 56-day rule. There would need to be some written evidence that both parties had agreed to extend time.
One correspondent queried whether sub-paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) in Article 7 do in fact enable time to be extended (or whether sub-paragraph (a) in fact rules this out), but there is no doubt that any one of sub-paragraphs (a) or (b) or (c) may apply; there is a comma after sub-paragraph (a), so it is clear that each is an alternative to the others.
Reverting to appeals against non-determination of a prior approval application, after further representations from the LPA, the Planning Inspectorate subsequently changed their minds in the case I mentioned in my last post, and accepted the appeal, on the basis that the case raised other issues besides the question of non-determination within the 56-day period. In the absence of such additional issues, though, it would appear that it is unnecessary (and in fact impossible) to appeal against the non-determination of a prior approval application. The right to proceed with the development arises automatically. However, if there is any doubt in such a case as to the qualification of the pre-existing use under the terms of the relevant Class of permitted development in Part 3, or as to the nature and scope of the proposed development itself, it may in such circumstances be advisable to make an application for a Lawful Development Certificate under section 192 of the 1990 Act, as I mentioned previously.
© MARTIN H GOODALL