Help – my planning permission is about to expire! What are my next steps?

considerations for commencing or renewing planning permission

You secure planning permission for your development and before you know it the expiration date is nearly upon you.  Do you commence development to keep the permission alive or resubmit the application? It is a complex area and something we often advise our clients on.

Timings and permission types

By law, any planning permission granted expires after a certain period.  Long gone are the days when you could apply to extend the time limit for commencement (if permission/consent was granted after 1 October 2010, then you cannot request a time extension).

The type of planning permission obtained can have an impact on timings and potential next steps.  For example, with outline planning permission you usually have 3 years in which to submit reserved matters, and then 2 years from the date of determination to discharge any pre-commencement conditions, before you can commence works on site.

With a full planning permission, you usually have 3 years from the date of the approval, and again, you will need to discharge any relevant conditions before commencing development.

If you haven’t started work before the 3-years is up but you want to keep the planning permission live, then there are 2 key options open to you.  Commencement vs resubmission – what you ultimately choose to do depends on several factors and some of these have potentially far reaching implications.  There may be no clear-cut correct route, however, useful initial considerations are outlined below.

Commencing development

Commencing development in this scenario means to undertake minor works on site to signify the implementation of a planning permission. This will keep it live, avoiding the risk of re-submitting a planning application against a potentially very different policy backdrop. It can also help to establish the value of the land in terms of its permission.  However, the implications of commencement need to be carefully considered and include:

Conditions:  Relevant pre-commencement conditions must be dealt with and discharged before development can begin. If you don’t discharge the necessary conditions prior to development on site, then the works undertaken may not be considered lawful.

What constitutes development? Trusting conditions have been successfully discharged, you will then need to satisfy the council that any works undertaken on site constitute commencement of that particular planning permission. It isn’t as simple as putting a spade in the ground.  Evidencing this can take various forms, and it may be worth securing a Certificate of Lawfulness just to be sure. Our planning consultants can advise on the best strategy and approach.

S106 and CIL Requirements: Looking at your wider development strategy, if you implement your planning permission then will you trigger S106 and CIL requirements?  We can advise on what you can vary and what notices you should submit to navigate this most effectively for your development programme.

Resubmitting a planning application

If you do not have enough time to discharge the necessary conditions before permission expires or are not in a position to commence development then, subject to several factors, you may find resubmission of the application is your only option.

This may not be as simple as submitting the original application, as the policy position may have changed, and you might find yourself trying to secure planning permission against a very different planning backdrop. Furthermore, just because you secured planning once, doesn’t automatically mean that you will be granted planning permission for a second time. Having said this, the planning history of a site can be a material consideration.

Should I reapply or commence?

Our recent approval for a replacement 5x bed dwelling in Ashford, Kent, gives a useful overview of some of the strategic considerations on whether to implement or resubmit a planning permission before it expires.

In this case, local policy had changed since the original permission was granted. In light of this, we advised our client on the pros and cons of commencement vs reapplying and, given their particular development programme, their preference was for a resubmission.

We devised and implemented a nuanced planning strategy, which enabled us to prepare a robust application and successfully make the case for the development a second time, even though both local policy and the NPPF had altered since the original grant of planning permission, and the LPA could now demonstrate a 5 year housing land supply.   

Planning permission was secured and we are delighted with the outcome for our client, enabling them to keep to their development programme and keep their planning permission alive for a stylish and spacious family home.

How we can help

Commencement vs resubmission is a complex area of planning.  Our knowledge, experience and understanding means that we can help you formulate and implement the most suitable planning strategy for your development aims. Contact our team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.