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Discharging or Varying Planning Conditions


Conditions are often imposed to regulate certain aspects of an approved scheme and are an important element in the process. If it were not for the conditions, it is likely that the planning application would have been refused. Conditions can also add the finishing touches to a scheme by making it more attractive, adding value and making it more saleable so everyone (you and the wider community) benefits.

Some conditions must be complied with before a development is started. Some regulate how the work is carried out. Others require actions before a building is occupied or a use commences. Certain conditions will seek to regulate how the completed development is to be used, or to control possible changes in the future. Consult with your advisers on how best to comply with those conditions.

Failure to comply with planning conditions or not implementing your development in accordance with the approved drawings may have serious consequences, including:

  • Enforcement Action. Breach of a condition or undertaking works that are not in accordance with a valid planning approval is a criminal offence. The Department may take action in a number of ways including serving an enforcement notice requiring works to be undone or a use ceased. In other instances you could be prosecuted.
  • The need to re-submit a full planning application to the Department if the approval is invalidated.
  • A record that the development is unauthorised (and possibly subject to planning enforcement) being placed on the Department’s database that provides answers to property searches.
  • potential difficulties in raising funds against or selling of the land or building.

This list is not exhaustive and there could be other consequences.

What To Do Once Your Application Has Been Approved

Check your planning decision notice carefully. If you think there is something wrong with it, contact us immediately quoting the reference number and setting out clearly what you think is wrong.

See if there are any conditions which require you to submit further details or information, and when these have to be complied with.

If you are unhappy about any of the conditions imposed you can lodge an appeal with the Department.For an appeal to be valid it must be in writing to the Department, signed by the Appellant, submitted within 21 days of the date of the Notice and accompanied by the appropriate fee. Should you wish to appeal please use the form available on

Complying With Conditions

The first condition usually limits the length of time that the planning approval is valid. If work is not started within that time the permission will lapse.

When applying for a condition to be discharged, ensure that the information, details and/or drawings submitted are comprehensive and meet the condition requirement. Please allow sufficient time for the information submitted to be considered by the case officer. A condition is only discharged when written approval is issued by the Department in a formal letter.

It is extremely important to address all those conditions that require action before work is commenced well in advance of when you wish to begin working on site to avoid any problems or delays. Some conditions that require information or action prior to work commencing are particularly significant (e.g. resolving contaminated land issues, submitting archaeological assessments). If works start before these details have been agreed, irrevocable damage may occur and this may result in legal action. Failure to discharge conditions at the correct time can sometimes invalidate a planning approval. As a result you would have to re-apply for planning approval, incurring a further fee and potentially other costs, such as legal fees in relation to a new legal agreement. Depending on the planning policy context, and any other material changes in the planning circumstances it is possible that the development may not be approved a second time round. A breach of condition may also lead to enforcement action and/or prosecution if the Department feels it is appropriate.

Extensions to the life of planning approvals are no longer given by way of a letter from the Department, so if you wish to extend the length of time that planning approval is valid for, then you will need to submit a planning application to vary that condition prior to the original approval expiring.

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