High Court finds there is no power to extend time for agri-resi prior approval determinations under the GPDO

01 Aug 2019

Planning and Environment, Public Law and Judicial Review

In Warren Farm (Wokingham) Limited v Wokingham Borough Council [2019] EWHC 2007 (Admin), CMG Ockelton found yesterday that applications for prior approval under Schedule 2, Part 3, Class Q (agricultural buildings to dwellinghouses) must be determined within 56 days, or else the applicant enjoys a deemed grant of planning permission to carry out works in accordance with Class Q and the terms of their application, even if an extension has been agreed.

Warren Farm sought to change the use of a grain barn on its land into a dwellinghouse and on 12 November 2018 applied for a determination as to whether prior approval was required.

On 8 January 2019, the Council sought an extension to determine the application which Warren Farm agreed to, pointing out that it did not consider the Council had the power to extend time. On 30 January 2019, the Council refused prior approval. Warren Farm challenged that decision by way of judicial review.

The claim turned on the interplay between Article 7(c) of the GPDO (which contemplates an extension of time) and Schedule 2, Part 3, Class V, paragraph W(11) GPDO, which makes no provision for an extension.

The Deputy Judge found at [34] that Article 7(c) is only available as an alternative to Article 7(b) (i.e. where the GPDO gives no set timeframe in which to determine prior approval applications). It followed that the decision to refuse prior approval was made too late and would be quashed at [35].

Why is the case relevant?

The judgment is essential reading for all those involved with prior approval applications. Where the GPDO prescribes a period of time in which a decision as to whether prior approval is required, the council must make their determination within that timescale or else the applicant will have gained a deemed grant of planning permission.

The full judgment is available here.

Ashley Bowes acted for the successful Claimant, instructed by Barlow Robbins LLP with Boyer Planning (Wokingham) acting at the application stage.