Reserved matters and conditions

Reserved matters are items that are excluded from an outline planning application because they will be determined by future planning approval, or have not yet been developed to a satisfactory degree. 

If outline approval is given, an applicant has three years to submit a new application to gain approval for the reserved matters left off the previous application.

Subject areas

Reserved matters often include the following areas:


The accessibility to and within a site for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.The positioning, treatment and circulation of routes and how these fit into the surrounding access network.


The aspects of a building, or place, within the development that decide  how a visual impression is  made. This includes the external form of a development, its architecture, materials, decoration, lighting, colour and texture.


The treatment of land (other than buildings) for the purpose of enhancing or protecting the amenities of a site. This includes:

  • screening by fences, walls or other means
  • the planting of trees, hedges, shrubs or grass
  • the formation of banks, terraces or other earthworks
  • the laying out or provision of gardens, courts, squares, water features, sculpture or public art
  • the provision of other amenity features;


The way buildings, routes and open spaces within a development are situated and orientated about each other and to buildings and spaces outside the development


The height, width and length of each building proposed in relation to its surroundings.


Some conditions attached to an outline approval cannot be discharged until the reserved matters have been approved. For example, details relating to drainage can’t be approved before matters relating to the layout and scale of the development have been approved.

If a request is made to discharge planning conditions on an outline planning consent that is waiting for approval of reserved matters, the request will be refused and the fee forfeited.  

Requests to discharge planning conditions on outline consents should not be made as part as the reserved matters application.

There are separate rules, forms, fees and procedures for requests to discharge planning conditions. If a reserved matters application is submitted which includes details seeking to discharge a condition, then both applications will normally be delayed until the required fees are paid and the documents are organised into two separate applications.