Permission in Principle

Decoration Decoration

What is Permission in Principle and when to apply for it

Policy & Legislation
Author Amy Roberts
Senior Associate
Decoration Decoration

Since the 1st of June 2018, when the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) (Amendment) Order 2017 came into force, it has been possible to apply directly to a local planning authority for Permission in Principle (PIP) for non-major housing developments (prior to this, PIP was only obtainable for housing-led developments included in Part 2 of the relevant local planning authority’s brownfield register).

PIP is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission, which separates the consideration of matters of principle from the technical details of the development. PIP can only be granted for housing/housing-led development and settles the fundamental principles of land use, the location of development and the amount of development, expressed as a range.

How is this different from obtaining outline planning permission?

The current outline process requires applicants to provide substantial amounts of information upfront, which can result in significant time and cost prior to achieving any certainty that the development will be supported in principle. PIP is an alternative route which can provide early certainty on the in principle matters: use, location and amount without a significant amount of work and, therefore, outlay.

A two-stage approach

The PIP route has two stages:

  • Stage 1 establishes whether a site is suitable in principle for residential development. A developer cannot proceed with development, however, until they have also obtained technical details consent.
  • Stage 2 – the purpose of the technical details stage is to assess the detailed design, ensure appropriate mitigation of impacts and secure any contributions towards essential infrastructure.

Limits and exemptions

There are limits to the amount of development that can be subject to applications for PIP, as follows:

  • 1-9 dwellings
  • up to 1,000sqm of new floorspace
  • sites under 1 ha

There are also a number of exemptions, including habitats, householder and EIA developments.

How to apply

An application must be made to the relevant local planning authority using the new published application form, along with a plan identifying the land.

The local planning authority must give a decision within five weeks of the application being received and the default life of a PIP is five years.

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