Government guidance on ‘non-material amendments’ does not define what changes may be treated as ‘non-material’. It is the responsibility of each local planning authority to determine the definition on ‘non-material’.

A judgement on “materiality” in any particular case, is one of fact and degree, along with taking into account the likely impact of the amendment on the local environment. Materiality is considered against the development as a whole, not just part of it. The basis for forming a judgement on materiality is always the original planning permission. The cumulative effects of any previous amendments need also to be assessed against any original permission.

There cannot be a set of prescriptive rules to what is or is not “material”, as each case is different and considered on its individual merit. This is a matter for the local planning authority to decide. The following protocol has been devised to clarify the process for determination as well as setting out the procedure involved.

Section 96A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 states that “in deciding whether a change is material, a Local Planning Authority must have regard to the effect of the change, together with previous changes made under this section, on the planning permission as originally granted.” 

As a general guide, the Borough Council will normally consider the following proposed works as ‘non-material amendments’:

  • The resulting scheme is reduced in size in any dimension, and this does not compromise the overall design and appearance, particularly in conservation areas.
  • There is a reduction in the number and size or location of any openings, and this does not compromise the overall design and appearance, particularly in conservation areas.
  • There is no material impact on any neighbours or other statutory and non-statutory bodies, and the resulting scheme remains within the description of development on the decision notice, the fee paid and is within the adopted policies of the council.

Where any of the following examples apply, the Borough Council will not normally consider proposed works as ‘non-material amendments’:

  • The resulting scheme would alter the nature or description of the development.
  • The resulting scheme is increased in size (by volume and/or height) to the extent where this would have a material impact on the design, external appearance and/or local amenity.
  • There is an increase in the number of any openings, or a noticeable increase in size and/or location of openings (doors and windows), which would affect the external appearance of the proposal or result in loss of privacy or amenity to neighbours.
  • The resulting scheme would have a poorer design by reason of loss of detail or lower quality materials that would impact on visual amenity.
  • The amendment would result in the scheme becoming contrary to the adopted policies of the council.
  • The resulting scheme would conflict with any existing planning conditions.

If you are unsure whether your amendments fall under the non-material criteria please contact the Planner who dealt with the original application for guidance.