06 May 2020

Guernsey Planning Service confirms position remains unchanged on expiry dates for planning approvals

The Planning Service at the States of Guernsey has confirmed that despite the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic there is no ability under the Land Planning and Development (Guernsey) Law 2005 to extend the expiry date of planning permissions where that date is imminent.

The Law, as it stands, provides that planning permissions are valid for three years (or such shorter period specified in a condition). Development has to have commenced within that period otherwise the permission expires.

There are many reasons why a development may not have been started but one of those reasons is that certain planning conditions or building control requirements may have to be satisfied before development can commence.

In light of the recent relaxation of lockdown requirements, and following a number of enquiries from those within the construction industry, the Planning Service has moved to reassure developers. The Planning Service indicates that it will work with developers to progress matters and, following the submission of satisfactory information, discharge any pre-commencement conditions so that works can lawfully commence before the permission falls away. The reassurance also indicates that any Building Control approvals necessary to allow commencement can be progressed by way of physical and virtual site visits. 

Carey Olsen senior associate and planning specialist Rachel Jones said: "Developers must ensure planning deadlines are complied with in order to keep planning permissions alive. If permission does expire then a new planning application will have to be made which can lead to further delays and costs. The only way to save an existing permission is to lawfully start development at the site although the current COVID-19 restrictions may prove to make this difficult. Parties faced with an impending deadline are encouraged to seek advice and to liaise with the Planning Service.

"The message from the Planning Service is welcome. It reminds site owners and developers of the finality of the three year period but indicates a positive and collaborative approach from it to do all it can to help parties get development started to save permissions."

Rachel added that another option could be for the States to address this issue by bringing in legislation to automatically extend planning permissions about to expire. However, with the existing demand on government in other areas, this seems unlikely at present.