The Planning Guarantee

Thank you to my colleagues at TLT for telling me in their very helpful bulletins that a recent High Court decision has clarified the “rules” for getting a client’s planning application fee back under the Planning Guarantee.

We have twice successfully applied to a couple of LPA’s to get our client’s application fee back (one being £13k!) and we would have to confess that one of them wouldn’t have comfortably sat with the outcome of the Provectus Remediation Ltd v Derbyshire County Council in its judgment of 8 June 2018.

The planning guarantee is the government’s policy that no application should spend more than a year with decision-makers, including any appeal. In practice this means that planning applications should be decided in no more than 26 weeks, allowing a similar period for any appeal. If a valid application is already being considered and it becomes clear that more time than the statutory period is genuinely required, then the local planning authority should ask the applicant to consider an agreed extension of time. Any such agreement must be in writing and set out the timescale within which a decision is expected.

The High Court decision makes clear that no refund of planning application fees will be due where:

  1. an extended deadline for determination of the application has been agreed in writing; and
  2. that extended deadline does beyond the 26-week period from submission of the application, after which a refund is normally due; even if the LPA fails to determine the application by the extended deadline.

We always think carefully when considering whether to agree to an extended determination period and have the 26 weeks period in mind.

Our colleagues at TLT expect the High Court decision to be clarified by further caselaw as the judge’s unfortunate choice of language leaves uncertain the position where an extension to the statutory period for determination is agreed but that extension does not exceed the 26-week refund period. Until such times as it is clarified, expert legal advice should be sought to avoid inadvertently giving up such a right.

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