What Planners Need to Know About Permission in Principle

Published November 7th, 2017

This new method for securing permission without a planning application is prompting doubts:

What does new guidance tell us about permission in principle?

Permission in Principle (PiP) was introduced by the government in the Housing and Planning Act 2016. It aims to provide a fast-track route through the planning process, in the hope of speeding up housing delivery. Essentially, it splits the application process in two, so that a proposed residential development can secure PiP before achieving full consent through a further technical details consent (TDC).

New detail on PiP was published in the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) in July. More details are revealed on TDC applications, though the guidance leaves it up to local authorities to decide the exact requirements. The PPG states that authorities ‘Should take a proportionate approach” to information requested to support TDC applications’. Once a valid TDC application has been received, councils should make a decision within the statutory time limit of five weeks for minor developments and ten weeks for major developments

What else needs to be done to fully implement PIP?

The regulations published in April, relate to PiP for brownfield registers only. The Housing and Planning Act promised however to introduce PiP for housing sites allocated in local and neighbourhood plans and for minor planning applications. Further details and a timeframe on secondary legislation are needed to allow PiP to be applied in these areas. Detail is also needed on the level of fees for TDC application.

What are the implications for local authorities?

PiP could negatively impact on over-stretched planning departments, although the application is split in two, the workload involved in processing it is likely to be the same, if not more than is required for a standard application as determining whether sites should receive PiP or TDC requires detailed assessment. To make this route attractive to applicants, it is expected that the fee for a TDC will be lower than a traditional application fee – further impacting council resources.

Do the changes present any potential risks or opportunities for developers?

PiP could be a potentially be an uncertain and risky route for applicants as the guidance does not provide as much clarity as it could, with the details left up to individual councils to decide. It is likely to mean that authorities will ask applicants for more detail than originally provided and this could result in the PiP process requiring as much resource and time as an outline application.

Developers are familiar with the current planning system and can appeal if unhappy with a decision. There is no right of appeal for PiP if an authority refuses to move a site on to part two of the brownfield register, meaning that PiP is granted. There is also no real detail yet about when sites for inclusion in the register or how long that could take. However, according to the PPG, TDC refusals can be appealed.

How effective will the measures be in speeding up housing delivery?

Unless the PiP process reduces the overall level of detail and time required for an application, local authorities are unlikely to promote it because of its impact on resources. Developers are likely to be cautious and continue to promote their sites using the traditional planning routes.


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More about Val Coleby

BSc(Hons) Dip TP Dip LM MRTPI
Planning Consultant
Tel: 01536 532388
Mobile: 07714 311490

Val has over 25 years’ planning experience in both the public and private sectors giving her a well-rounded professional career. She qualified as a Chartered Town Planner in 1987 and has qualifications in both planning and management.

Val has extensive knowledge of the planning system including development control, heritage and conservation and planning policy development. She has prepared and coordinated numerous planning applications both large and small managing multi-disciplinary teams. Val has acted for a number of local authorities and private clients as an expert planning witness in planning appeals. She also has a good understanding and working knowledge of the Community Infrastructure Levy and its progress of implementation across the country, rural planning issues and farm diversification opportunities. Having been closely involved in the development of planning policy in the public sector gives her an insight into unravelling policy for her private client interests.