Non Material Variation

There is a wide discrepancy between Councils and indeed Council officials as to what can and what can not be considered a non-material variation within a planning application.  In one example a Council refused to accept as a non-material variation the change of a bund to a wall within a site that would not be visible to the public nor would it have any impact on any amenity or the environment.  The legislation and guidance should be updated to produce a more easily defined test, and to provide a route to challenge decisions other than court.  The test might be as simple as "Would the change result in an impact that would reasonably give rise to new public concerns or impact on the environment".  This would sit alongside permitted development regulations which deal with changes to built development.  

Why the contribution is important

For some development the need for minor change is inevitable, be that through consultation response or public comments, or via information that comes to light later in the process.  Requiring a new application for minor change does not benefit the public as they have to again consider and comment on essentially the same proposal.  For developers the cost in time and productions costs can be very high and out of all proportion to the change being sought.  Most developers do not challenge because the only recourse is to the courts which protract matters even further. 

by Sutherland on February 10, 2016 at 04:37PM

Current Rating

Average score : 4.2
Based on : 8 votes


  • Posted by MDB February 17, 2016 at 16:08

  • Posted by Dunadd4556 February 20, 2016 at 18:47

    The process should also be standardised, it is too idiosynchratic - some LA's require a form, others just a letter
  • Posted by irc February 21, 2016 at 16:35

    There is certainly a need for common sense by the local authority but pressure to process applications timeously can also lead to a reluctance to notify objectors about material alterations which subsequently prove to be very sensitive. There is therefore no simple answer which meets all requirements.
  • Posted by JohnColledge February 28, 2016 at 23:26

    This is such an important issue. But id Planning Dept staff 'didn't understand' the application or what had been approved in the first place, where does that leave local residents? The parties involved don't acknowledge their mistakes and the SPSO has been shown to have little credibility.
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