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Planning Permission Validity Period

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I've got an appointment to look at a house later on today, which has planning permission for an extension. The planning reference leads to an approval document, which clearly states that the work must be started within "three years from the date of this permission".

All nice and clear. The problem is, it's not entirely clear to me when that date is. The document states:

Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Permission for Development

Application No. XXXXXXX

Date Valid: 2nd September 2010

Decision Date: 9th November 2010

Looking through the other documents, 2nd September was the date that the council acknowledged receipt of the application and the whole process was started. So to my mind, common sense would suggest that the three years would start on the decision date, not the application date. But this reads to me as though the three years should commence on the "Date Valid" date.

Does anyone know which is correct? Obviously if it's the valid date, then it's not possible to complete a purchase in time to start the work, and the permission is therefore worthless. But it would seem a bit unfair to start the clock ticking on the date of application, especially considering how slow some councils are in reaching a decision.

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Ah I just gave them a call. It is the decision date. Never underestimate the potential of a local council to confuse things :)

Just get the seller to commence work. I would imagine that is a technicality; if they can dig a small hole as a start of foundations, and perhaps document the act, that would surely count as commencing work.

IANAL.

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