Purifying planning conditions

tender detail drainageThere’s a faintly moral tone to some of the terminology surrounding planning applications and permissions. Maybe it’s a Scottish thing. Anyway, when you get planning permission to build a house, there are often conditions attached to the permission, and you have to formally apply to the Council to demonstrate you have met all the conditions.

We had 8 or so to meet, 3 of which made it clear we had to address them and get them agreed before we started building. We were so in a rush to get going that we forgot about them until two days before starting. I sent a quick email off to the Planning Officer describing what we’re going to do about them and crossed my fingers.

The three conditions were:

  1. Make sure you have in writing the agreement of the Council that water supply, rainwater drainage and foul drainage are all approved by the Council before starting any development
  2. Get written approval and keep strictly to a scheme of soft landscaping, gaining that approval before starting any development
  3. Get approval in writing for all the external materials to be used in the development, again before any development takes place.

Since we had started I had visions of some draconian planning officer descending on the site in some sort of vengeful 4×4 waving enforcement notices about his head like a modern-day Fury.

In reality, Barry (of TV Planners fame) turned out to be a very practical sort of person. He dealt rapidly with any concerns I had – none of the conditions were what he called “suspensible” so although it said we shouldn’t start, once started, he couldn’t stop us. Panic over. (But how arcane!)

Then we talked about the drainage. He explained since we already had approval from SEPA (Scottish Environment people) and Building Control in the Council, he would simply go and read the papers in Building Control. I wouldn’t even need to send him copies of anything. Thoroughly sensible. Condition discharged.


Barry didn’t understand why his predecessor had insisted on the landscaping condition. It was normally for big developments, or for developments close to sensitive properties. Since we didn’t fit into that category, if I just slightly changed the diagram I had submitted to show a couple more bushes, we were covered.


Finally, samples of external materials. Barry said to give him a call when we had them all together and he would come down on site and look at them there. Perfect. We can assess them against the buildings we are hoping to match up to and cover off the condition all in one place.

Done. As you were. Back to digging holes!

Oh, and purifying? When all the conditions are discharged, we can be said to have purified the situation. It must be a bit like going to confession!

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