Application for Permission in Principle (PiP)

01st June 2018
By Rachel White

What is Permission in Principle?
New legislation by way of the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 came into force on 15 April 2017 with the aim of speeding up housing delivery and giving developers more up front certainty by separating ‘in principle’ issues (such as land use, location, and amount of development) from technical matters. From 1 June 2018, the legislation will be implemented allowing developers to gain an ‘in principle’ consent for sites identified on the brownfield register.
Application for Permission in Principle
The process is applicable to residential development but excludes major development, habitats development, householder development and EIA development. For small sites, the application sites must be capable of providing 9 units or fewer, with less than 1000sqm of commercial floorspace and/or a site area of 1ha of less.

The level of information required to be submitted is minimal – a form, site plan and details of minimum and maximum number of homes, along with the applicable fee. The length of determination and consultation period is less than a typical planning application (14 days consultation and 5 weeks to issue a decision) although unlike some prior approvals there is no penalty to the LPA if this target is not met.

Similar to PiP via the brownfield route once the principle is established full permission is sought via a second stage covering Technical Details Consent (TDC), which must happen within 3 years. Full guidance on the process is still awaited which will clarify the processing of both PIP’s and TDC's.

What does this mean for the Development Industry?
The intention is to assist smaller builders in securing much needed certainty through PiP that sites could be developed for residential use without going to the expense of an outline or full planning application. In reality, given the limitations above, the process would only be applicable to a small number of sites.  In addition whilst the application requirements are minimal, depending on the existing use of the site, it is likely that an application would also need to be supported by evidence justifying the loss of the existing use. Many of the sites to which this route would be applicable should already be allocated for housing or supported through policy for residential uses and the principle of use could be established through a pre-application process with the Local Authority.

The benefit a PiP offers over pre-app is that it provides planning consent, whereas an LPA is not beholden to advice in a pre-app letter.  In this regards there may be opportunities in changing policy climates to establish PiP for residential use in cases where emerging policies are looking to protect an existing use on brownfield land not currently protected.

However its success is also dependent on planning departments positively embracing the potential this new mechanism could offer to deliver new homes on small sites, which is likely to differ between Local Authorities. We expect the potential for this route to significantly add to housing supply over and above land that can already come forward for housing is limited.  

Click here to read our previous article on the designated route to PiP.

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