Q&As

If a planning officer has informally indicated that a trench excavated by a developer constitutes commencement of development, can the council refuse a subsequent certificate of lawfulness application because it considers the same trench de minimis and insufficient to trigger commencement?

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Produced in partnership with Jo Hannah of Winckworth Sherwood
Published on LexisPSL on 07/07/2021

The following Planning Q&A produced in partnership with Jo Hannah of Winckworth Sherwood provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • If a planning officer has informally indicated that a trench excavated by a developer constitutes commencement of development, can the council refuse a subsequent certificate of lawfulness application because it considers the same trench de minimis and insufficient to trigger commencement?
  • Is the informal opinion of a planning officer binding on a local planning authority (LPA) in respect of commencement of development?

If a planning officer has informally indicated that a trench excavated by a developer constitutes commencement of development, can the council refuse a subsequent certificate of lawfulness application because it considers the same trench de minimis and insufficient to trigger commencement?

Is the informal opinion of a planning officer binding on a local planning authority (LPA) in respect of commencement of development?

Section 56 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990) provides that development is to be taken to be begun on the earliest date on which any material operation comprised in the development begins to be carried out.

TCPA 1990, s 56(4)(b) provides that the digging of a trench which is to contain foundations, or part of the foundations, of a 'building' amounts to a material operation.

In this case, it is not known whether the trench was dug for the purpose set out in TCPA 1990, s 56(4)(b) or how large the trench is or whether it was dug in accordance with the relevant planning permission but in the case of Malvern Hills DC v The Secretary of State for the

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