Non-material amendments

"Non-material amendments" and "minor material amendments" to existing planning permissions

Following a grant of planning permission, the owner may wish to seek approval amendments to the permission. With effect from 1st October 2009 such amendments must now be dealt with by way of an application for either a “non-material amendment” or a “minor material amendment”, details of which are set out below. The Council will therefore no longer be able to accept requests for minor amendments by letter alone, but only on the correct application form.

Non-material amendments to existing planning permissions

An application for a “non-material amendment” removes the need for an entirely new planning application to be submitted where only a very small change is sought. Such an application, if approved, would form an amendment to the original planning permission and would be subject to the conditions and time limit of the original permission. It would not form a new planning permission.

What is a non-material amendment?

Whether or not a proposed amendment is considered to be non-material will depend on the circumstances of the case. There is no statutory definition of ‘non material’. This is because it is so dependant on the context of the overall scheme – what may be non-material in one context may be material in another. Whether or not a change can be considered as a “non-material amendment” may be defined according to established legal concepts of materiality and de minimus. In the case of amendments to permission for alterations/extensions to a residential property the Council will use the following criteria to assist in guiding its decision as to whether or not applications for “non-material amendments” might be acceptable:

  • The proposal is for a very small change to the development already granted planning permission;
  • The proposed amendment does not alter the development significantly from what was described on the planning permission and does not conflict with any conditions of the permission;
  • No adopted planning policy is breached;
  • The proposed amendment would not move any external wall outwards more than the thickness of a wall;
  • The proposal would not increase the height of any roof;
  • No windows are introduced that could potentially permit overlooking of other properties.

Proposals that do not comply with the above criteria are unlikely to be treated as a “non-material amendment” and are therefore likely require a new planning permission (see “minor material amendments”).

Examples of Non-Material Amendments

Examples of proposals where non-material amendments have been agreed by the Council include both residential and commercial developments. Changes in the appearance and materials used have been agreed through this procedure for one of the new stands approved as part of the Lancashire County Cricket Club stadium redevelopment. Similarly changes to the windows, removal of balconies and changes to materials used have been agreed for the residential upper floor of the second phase of the Urmston Town Centre redevelopment. Changes have also been agreed for a new housing development at Albert Place, Altrincham involving alterations to and removal of windows for several houses and the insertion of one new window as well as alterations to garage doors and changes in size of two of the garages.

What is the process for applying for a non-material amendment?

  • Applications for “non-material amendments” must be made on the standard application form. Visit the planning portal website to apply online or download our application form and guidance notes.
  • Two copies of the relevant plans, clearly showing the proposed amendment(s) must be submitted.
  • The fees for NMA applications are: Householder applications - £28, In any other case - £195
  • A Design and Access Statement is not required.
  • Only planning permissions can be the subject of non-material amendments (not Listed Building Consents or Conservation Area Consents).
  • The Local Planning Authority has 28 days to determine the application.
  • Only a person with a legal interest in the land can make an application. Notice must be served on any owner(s) of the land.
  • More than one “non-material amendment” can be applied for on one application form.
  • Under the non material amendment provision, there are no requirements for the Local Planning Authority to carry out publicity as part of the amendment, or for consultation or for the identification of unknown other site owners.

“Minor material amendments” to existing planning permissions

An amendment that cannot be treated as a “non-material amendment” would require a new freestanding planning permission, either by way of a “minor material amendment” to an existing planning permission or by way of a new planning application.

What is a “minor material amendment”?

There are no set criteria to determine what constitutes a “minor material amendment”. However, the Government has defined this type of change as being:

"one whose scale and nature results in a development which is not substantially different from that which has been approved"

The Government also states that the dividing line between “minor material amendments” and “non-material amendments” will be defined “according to established legal concepts of materiality and de minimus”

The Council advises that if there is any doubt as to whether or not the amendment would constitute a minor material amendment, it may be more appropriate for a full planning application to be submitted (see full planning application below).

What is the process for applying for a minor material amendment?

The government has advised that applications for minor material amendments should be made by way of a variation of condition application. However, the Council will still accept applications for amendments to planning permission which are submitted as a new planning application under the standard application forms (i.e. planning permission, householder application etc). Dependent upon the nature of the development, there will be instances where, in terms of the application fee, it is more beneficial to submit one type of application over the other. Applicants therefore have the benefit of deciding which application type to submit. However, if an application is submitted for a “minor material amendment”, but this is not accepted by the Council, then it would be possible to make a further application for a completely new planning permission for the proposal – however, this would result in a longer timescale since the Council would have 8 weeks to determine the “minor material amendment” application and a further 8 weeks for determining any completely new planning application. Details of both types of applications are set out below.

Variation of condition application

  • This application can only be made where there is a condition in place which lists the approved plans. The Council’s current practice is to impose conditions which list the approved plans. The description on the application form must state which condition you are seeking to vary.
  • Apply on the planning portal website or view our Applications and Guidance Notes page to download the application form and guidance notes. The fee is £195.
  • Full plans and a Design and Access Statement are required.
  • The Local Planning Authority has 8 weeks to determine the application (13 weeks for a “major” application).
  • Only planning permissions can be the subject of minor material amendments (not Listed Building Consents or Conservation Area Consents).

Full planning application

Apply on the planning portal website or download an application form and guidance notes.

The Council advises that applications for amendments that are made by way of a new full planning application within 12 months of the date of the decision notice do not require a fee, providing the full fee was paid for the most recent application and the development is of the same character, on the same site and for the same applicant.

Further information

Further detailed guidance is available form the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Who to contact

Planning and Building Control
Trafford Council
PO Box 96
Waterside House
M33 7ZF
0161 912 3149