Off the starting blocks

14 Nov 2023

Validation of a planning application is key because it sets the clock ticking on determination. For want of a better analogy, you can’t be in the race let alone win it unless your entry has been accepted. It is simply not possible to get a decision from a planning authority unless your application has been accepted as valid.

The key difference between information desirable for determining an application and information that is required, was highlighted in an appeal against non-determination following a validation dispute (400-042-817). A retrospective application for a replacement shopfront in a locally listed building had been made but the council refused to validate the application, stating that the application was incomplete without pre-existing front elevation drawing and photograph, and pre-existing and existing floorplans.

Notwithstanding that the application was for planning permission for development already carried out and therefore excluded from the council’s local list of information requirements anyway, the council had not provided any justification of its request by reference to the local list. Although the appellant served a notice under article 12 of the DMPO, stating that the council’s requirements were not reasonable or proportionate or reflective of the development being applied for, the council didn’t respond, despite being required to do so by article 12. To make progress, the applicant had no alternative but to appeal non-determination.

In defending an application for costs by the appellant, the council conceded that it had not been in a position to refuse to validate the application, but maintained that the details requested would have been desirable to help it determine the application. The inspector was having none of this, pointing out that the council’s appeal statement demonstrated that it had been able to assess the planning merits of the case even without the requested details, and this was no reason to have refused to validate the application. He allowed the sec.78 appeal after finding no harm to the shopfront and wider area, and made an award of costs. In his view, if the council had given proper regard to, and understood, the provisions of the DMPO, there was a strong probability that the application would have been validated.

The subject of application registration and validation disputes are explored in DCP 5.151. Local list information requirements are examined in more detail in DCP 5.144.