Can I challenge the council's planning conditions?

Our lawyer, Katharine Marshall, advises how to make amendments to the council planning conditions imposed on a property
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© Merrily Harpur (
Question: When my house was built in the mid-Eighties, one of the conditions imposed by the council was that all “permitted development rights” would be removed. This meant that when we added a conservatory and a tiny extension, we had to get planning permission both times. Can I challenge the council’s ruling?

Answer: Planning conditions must be “reasonable, necessary, precise and relevant” when councils impose them. The one imposed on you seems very harsh and would normally only be imposed if where you live was already densely populated.

However, when it was imposed, the council had to give its reasons. There would have been a prescribed period within which the condition could have been challenged - for example, on the grounds that it was unreasonable or unnecessary.

Your options now are limited, but a procedure has recently been introduced to make “non-material amendments” to existing planning permissions, under Section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It means that if you can argue that the change to your conditions, though important to you, would be insignificant as far as your neighbours are concerned, then Section 96A could allow for the conditions to be changed without the need for a planning application.

But remember that it will be up to the council to decide what “insignificant” means. As this procedure is so new, you should get professional advice before you approach the council.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (

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