It is sometimes necessary to amend development proposals after planning permission has been granted. There are two types of amendment applications you might need to submit: non-material and minor material. In my experience, you might not know which one to submit, which is why I’ve decided to write this blog.  

So, what’s the difference?

The ‘Non-Material Amendment Application’

Section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, amended by the Planning Act 2008, permits applications for ‘non-material amendment’ to planning permissions. This avoids the need for a new planning application to be submitted, instead you can amend the existing permission whilst remaining subject to the original conditions and time limits.

There is no statutory definition for the sort of changes that might be considered ‘non-material’. Instead it depends on the context and is determined by the local planning authority. It is advisable therefore to consult with the local planning authority when considering amendments.

An application can then be made, and a small fee is payable.

The Town and Country Planning Act suggests that in deciding whether a change is material or not, a local planning authority must have regard to the effect of the change, together with any previous changes made, on the planning permission originally granted.

Where a change is ‘non-material’, it is unlikely that public consultation will be necessary, although anyone who may be affected must be informed, and may then make representations to the local authority. The application should be determined within 28 days unless a different time frame has been agreed.

‘non-material amendment’ might be one where:

  • It is a very small change.
  • It does not vary significantly from what was described on the planning permission.
  • It does not conflict with any conditions on the permission.
  • It does not breach planning policy.
  • It does not significantly move the external envelope
  • It does not increase the height of the roof.
  • It does not introduce or move windows or other openings that could affect other properties.

The ‘Minor Material Amendment Application’

There is no statutory definition of what ‘minor material amendment’ means, instead, as previously mentioned, local authorities are responsible for deciding, given the local context in each case.

However, the government suggests that ‘minor material amendments’ are likely to include any amendment where its scale and/or nature results in a development which is not substantially different from the one which has been approved and recommends that pre-application discussions should be used to determine whether an amendment is a ‘minor material amendment’ before an application is submitted.

This might include changes where:

  • The site boundary is not changed
  • The siting, landscape, scale and height is not significantly changed
  • The use is not changed.
  • The appearance is not adversely affected.
  • The change is compliant with local planning policy and with the conditions attached to the original permission.
  • Changes to windows or other openings that do not impact on neighbouring properties.
  • The interests of parties consulted about the original application are not disadvantaged.

Such changes might be dealt with by an application to vary a planning condition imposed on the existing permission.

Material changes, for which a fresh application might be required could include:

  • Significantly increasing its size.
  • Changes to windows or other openings that impact on neighbouring properties.
  • Changes that alter the description of development.
  • Changes to the application site area.
  • Significant alterations to design or the siting of the proposals.
  • Changes that would affect objections to the original proposal.

An application for a ‘minor material amendment’ can be made under Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, allowing conditions associated with the existing permission to be varied or removed. This can be used to vary a condition that lists the drawings associated with the existing planning permission. If there is no such condition, one may be added using an application under section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and then a Section 73 application to vary that condition.

Applications can be made using a variation/removal of condition form accompanied by drawings describing the nature of the amendment and an application fee.

The local authorities can use their discretion to decide who should be consulted about the application and the approach that should be taken to notification.

A decision should be made in eight weeks (or 13 weeks for major applications) and has the effect of creating a new planning permission alongside the original permission. The decision notice should set out any conditions attached to the original permission which have not been discharged, along with any conditions attached to the new permission.

In summary, where the amendments are not significant, they may be described as ‘non-material’.

An amendment that is considered to be more significant than a ‘non-material amendment’ will require a new application. This may be an application for a ‘minor material amendment’ to the existing planning permission, or a new planning application will be required.

NB: None of these apply to listed building consents or conservation area consents for which a completely new application must be made.