This was the question recently answered by the High Court in the case of Warren Farm (Wokingham) Limited v. Wokingham Borough Council.
The case involved a prior approval application that was made under Class Q of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 (“GDPO”), which permits the conversion of an agricultural building to a dwelling house if certain requirements are met. The High Court was asked to reconcile a conflict between two provisions within GDPO.
What is a Class Q development application?
Class Q is a form of permitted development designed to help ease the pressure on housing in rural areas. It is a type of planning permission that allows buildings that meet certain criteria to change from agricultural to residential use.
Can you extend a class Q development prior to application?
From the recent Warren Farm (Wokingham) Limited v. Wokingham Borough Council case, the High Court answered - no.
The High Court was asked to reconcile a conflict between two provisions within GDPO. One of the provisions anticipated that a Local Planning Authority could agree an extension of time to decide a Class Q Prior Approval Application. The other anticipated that no extension could be agreed.
The High Court held that there was only an ability to agree an extension of time where the GPDO does not specify a time limit for making a decision. It does not apply where a time limit is specified as is the case for Class Q. Where a time limit is specified, the decision must be made within that time limit otherwise there will be a grant of deemed planning permission.
What if a class Q development is not approved?
In the case of Class Q development, if a Local Planning Authority does not decide a prior approval application within 56 days beginning with the day after the application is received, there will be a grant of deemed planning permission.
However, the proposed development must still be carried out in accordance with the requirements of Class Q and the details submitted with the prior approval application to be lawful.
This decision has serious ramifications for Local Planning Authorities as it can be equally applied in all cases where the GDPO specifies that a prior approval application must be decided within a specific timeframe. It is therefore important that when receiving a prior approval application a Local Planning Authority checks whether there is any specified time period for making a decision and, if there is, ensure the decision is made in time to avoid the grant of a deemed planning permission.