Last edited 01 Apr 2016

Planning permission in principle measure

The Housing and Planning Bill 2015, included measures to introduce a 'permission in principle' (PiP) on land allocated for development in a qualifying document such as a brownfield register, development plan or neighbourhood plan.

A guidance note published by the government clarified that PiP would "... initially be limited to sites suitable for housing (use), location and amount of development. If land is allocated in such a document and satisfies the requirements of the development order as to type and scope of development the development order will automatically grant it a permission in principle ... The Government’s current intention is to limit the type of development to minor housing development (the creation of fewer than 10 units)."

Full planning permission will then be granted by local planning authorities through a 'technical details consent', which unlike the permission in principle, may include conditions. The local authority will not however, be able to re-open the principle of the development and may only grant or refuse an application on the grounds of previously unconsidered technical matters.

An impact assessment published alongside the government’s Housing and Planning Bill confirmed that the ‘permission in principle’ measure will not be applied retrospectively.

The government’s proposal had been to give the Secretary of State power to use development orders to grant planning for any ‘qualifying’ local or neighbourhood plan, thereby freeing up building on suitable brownfield sites. The scope of the legislation raised the possibility of a zonal system for designated housing land being applicable across the country. However, the impact assessment clarified that the measure will not apply to existing local plans, but only to sites on brownfield registers and site allocations in future local plans.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has sought to downplay the assertions of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England that brownfield land has the capacity for over one million homes, by stating that the data was ‘out of date and of poor quality’.

The department added that: ‘We consider that to be wildly over optimistic as only a fraction will be suitable for housing. The land may not be suitable or available for development, it may be located in the wrong place or subject to physical and/or environmental constraints.’

The impact assessment estimates that, based on the number of applications granted for major development in 2014/15, the maximum number of sites that could benefit from the proposals would be around 7,000 each year. It also added that well-established planning processes are expected to be used by local planning authorities to grant permission in principle through local and neighbourhood plans.

On 3 December 2015, during the committee stage of the Housing and Planning Bill, Housing and Planning minister Brandon Lewis made clear that permission in principle (PiP) would be limited to “housing-led development”, but that secondary legislation would allow for mixed-uses to be included in housing-led developments. Lewis said, “developers may wish to have some retail premises, community buildings and other things that are compatible with residential properties, but ultimately that will be a decision for the local authority.” Ref

During the second reading debate in the House of Lords on 26 January 2016, Government minister Baroness Williams made clear that granting planning in principle would be locally driven and subject to public consultation and consideration against planning policy. She said, "This will promote plan-led development and ensure that decisions take place within a framework that includes the engagement of communities and others, as well as consideration of development against local and national policy, including important matters such as heritage and, of course, flooding.”

In March 2016, Ministers confirmed they were considering setting a five-year time limit on permissions in principle. Ref Planning Portal 24 March 2016.

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