Getting planning on our project was a very demanding business… especially when I ended up making three separate planning applications. Having submitted well over 50 drawings, hundreds of pages of information and countless phone calls dealing with lawyers, planning consultants, ecologists, a landscape consultant, geologists, I finally got the planning decision for the scheme I really wanted I was elated, we’d done it!

In fact I was so elated that I did the classic error not looking in detail at my planning conditions*.

Just because you’ve got your permission number it doesn’t mean you’re finished with planing.

Chances are you will You have to discharge your conditions and this can be a big undertaking which you shouldn’t underestimate. It can take a lot of time to produce all the information required, and then a long time for the council to process.

Via the machinations and complications of my three planning permissions we ended up with the building and landscaping being covered under different planning permissions. Big mistake.

It means I am having to discharge over 15 conditions ranging from fairly standard, sample panels of stone and timber to the more unusual, additional ecology reports, planting schedules and Construction Environment Management Plans which covers how we will build and what steps we are taking to protect local flora and fauna — very unusual for a single building.

In hindsight, I was too busy celebrating actually getting planing permission when I should have been questioning and challenging the conditions, shaping them to reasonably suit my build programme.

While it is hard to get a condition totally removed you can request for its timing to be made more suitable to a possible build programme, so getting your materials and sample panels to be approved prior to the walls being erected rather than prior to commencement of the works. This allows you to have builders on site already working who can make up the panels rather than getting them on site specifically to do so, which costs more.

Its also allows you to be methodical in your approach finalising things in the sequence they will be built rather than everything before you start, which in a ideal world should happen……but never does!

Things to watch:

  • Try to understand and question the conditions before your planning permission is granted.
  • If you can’t, challenge them as soon as possible after getting your permission.
  • Start discharging them early as it can take several months.
  • Be diligent not to commit to things later in the build that will cost alot. It easy to think ‘it’s down the line’ and not do the research and costing properly. Remember your conditions are legally binding agreements!

*Conditions are the rules that govern your permission to build. There are standard ones about building in a certain timeframe, building to the drawings and information you’ve submitted, and stipulating the use future use of the building. After that it can get a little more demanding.

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