Can parties agree to extend time for determination of prior approval applications?

09 Apr 2019

Planning and Environment, Public Law and Judicial Review

The High Court has granted permission for a property developer to seek judicial review of a Council’s refusal of a prior approval application, outside the time period specified in the General Permitted Development Order.

Warren Farm (Wokingham) Limited had sought a determination as to whether prior approval was required to convert agricultural buildings to residential (C3 use) under the provisions of Part 3, Class Q GPDO. That is a necessary requirement prior to proceeding to take advantage of the changes of use within Part 3, Class Q.

Wokingham Borough Council requested more time to determine the application, to which the developer reluctantly agreed, pointing out that it did not consider an extension could be agreed within the terms of Part 3 of the GPDO.

HHJ Alice Robinson observed that it was arguable that Article 7, read together with Part 3, Class V, paragraph W GPDO, mean that a determination was required within the time limit prescribed so as to be effective.

There remains some uncertainty about the operation of the prior approval provisions of Part 3 GPDO.

The Court’s ultimate decision will deliver important clarity for those seeking to take advantage of the ability to change the use of agricultural buildings.

The judgment will also be helpful for local authorities, so as to know how and when to allocate resources to ensure decisions are validly taken within the relevant time period.

Ashley Bowes acts for the developer, Warren Farm (Wokingham) Ltd.