Making changes following planning permission

When planning permission is granted, development must take place in accordance with the permission and conditions attached to it, and any legal agreements.

New issues may arise after permission has been granted which require changes. Where these changes are fundamental or substantial, a new planning application will be needed. Where less substantial changes are proposed, there are the following options available:

  • Making a non-material amendment
  • Amending the conditions attached to the planning permission, including seeking to make ‘minor material amendments’

This advice note provides general guidance to consider when deciding which route is appropriate.

Non-Material Amendments

A ‘non-material amendment’ would form an update to the existing permission with any approved details sitting alongside it. It would still be subject to the conditions and time limit of the original permission.

Generally, this route is for very small changes to schemes that would not be readily noticeable.

There is no statutory definition of ‘non-material’. This is because it will be dependent on the context of the overall scheme – an amendment that is non-material in one context may be material in another.

As a guide, we usually won’t accept amendments if:

  • They would result in changes to external details that would materially alter the appearance of a development.
  • They materially increase the size of any part of the development.
  • They materially increase the height of a building or structure.
  • They locate any part of the development closer to a neighbour.
  • They change windows or doors in any elevation facing a neighbour.
  • They result in a greater visual intrusion, loss or light or feeling of enclosure to neighbours.
  • They affect any relevant objections to the original proposal

To seek the Council’s view on non-material changes, a formal application must be made as we do not offer informal advice on this – this is the point of the application.

The procedure cannot be used to make non-material amendments to listed building consents as it only applies to planning permissions.

Amending Conditions or ‘Minor Material Amendments’

Applications can be made under section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to vary or remove conditions of a planning permission but cannot be used to change descriptions, application site boundaries, or extend time limits of permissions.

One of the common uses of this process is to seek amendments to the ‘approved plans’ condition to make changes to a development, which is referred to as a ‘minor material amendment’.

Government guidance states, “there is no statutory definition of a ‘minor material amendment’ but it is likely to include any amendment where its scale and/or nature results in a development which is not substantially different from the one which has been approved.”

The Council will judge each case on its merits but any material changes to layout, appearance, materials, landscaping and general design matters are likely to be judged as ‘substantial’ and require fresh applications due to the importance the Council attaches to design quality standards.

Pre-application discussions are strongly encouraged to judge the appropriateness of this route.

Test for assessing ‘minor material amendments’

The following tests will be used by the Council to assess the acceptability of a change to an approved scheme using the ‘minor amendment’ procedure:

  • Is the proposed change material/significant in terms of its scale?
  • Would there be any change to the layout which would affect the character or appearance of the development or reduce quality?
  • Would there be any change to the design, external materials or appearance which would affect the character or appearance of the development or reduce quality?
  • Would the amendments reverse design improvements secured in the original application?
  • Would there be a greater impact on existing trees or, would it reduce the quality of a proposed landscaping scheme?
  • Would the amendments affect measures that were specifically required by Planning Committee?
  • Does the proposed amendment modify any use?
  • Would the interests of any third party or body who participated in, or was informed of, the original application be disadvantaged in any way?
  • Would the amendment be contrary to any relevant development plan policy?
  • Is the proposed change contrary to a restrictive condition on the original permission?
  • Would there be significant increases in site coverage, building heights or site levels?
  • Would there be additional and/or repositioned windows/doors/openings that would have an impact on neighbouring properties?

If none of these tests are positive, it is likely that we can deal with the proposal as a 'minor amendment'.

Any permission under this route will be a fresh permission so all relevant conditions will be reapplied and, where relevant, revised legal agreements will be required.

If you are in any doubt whether a proposed change is likely to be a ‘minor amendment’, to avoid delays, we recommend applying for a revised full application.