The enabling statutory framework for the new planning 'permission in principle' (PPIP) is contained in the Housing and Planning Bill. More information on how it is proposed that the PPIP will operate is provided by the recently issued technical consultation on planning changes (18 February until 15 April 2016). However, the consultation confirms that the detailed operation will be set out in a development order.

The aim is to separate decisions on 'in principle issues' from matters of technical detail and to ensure that the principle of development needs to be established only once. It is intended to prevent basic principle decisions being revisited multiple times, and to reduce the quantum of initial investment without certainty on suitability for development.

It is proposed that PPIP may be granted two ways, on allocation and on application to the Local Planning Authority (LPA).

PPIP by allocation

LPAs will have the ability to allocate sites as having PPIP by including them in certain locally supported documents. While views are sought on this, it is proposed that the documents would be, local plans, future neighbourhood plans and brownfield registers. Three key requirements are proposed for the documents:

  • production must have followed an effective process of preparation, public engagement, and have regard to local and national policy;
  • it must indicate a particular site is allocated for PPIP (allocations in existing plans cannot grant PPIP); and,
  • it must contain 'prescribed particulars', being 'in principle matters' that will form the basis of the PPIP.

The aim of granting PPIP in this way would be that the acceptability of the 'prescribed particulars' could not be reopened on consideration of any subsequent Technical Details Consent (TDC). It would not be possible for an LPA to impose conditions at the PPIP stage, but it could do so at the TDC stage.  

PPIP by application

It is also proposed that PPIP may be granted on application to the LPA, in the case of small sites (including householder development).

The explanatory memorandum to the Housing and Planning Bill stated that that consent granted in response to an application would be limited to minor housing schemes involving the creation of fewer than ten units. However, the consultation reveals that the Government may give further consideration to applying the PPIP process to major development.

The proposals for applications for PPIP are that these would require less upfront information than an outline application (a prescribed application form, a land plan, and fee). Applications would be determined having regard to the development plan and any other material considerations. If the LPA refused an application for PPIP, the applicant would have a right of appeal.

It is proposed that only the location, uses and area of the residential development should constitute 'in principle matters' that must be included in a PPIP. Views are sought on this.

The technical details consent

After PPIP is granted (on allocation or application) full planning permission would only be secured by obtaining a 'technical details consent' (TDC) from the LPA.

A TDC consent must; relate to the PPIP site, propose development in accordance with the PPIP, and must be contained within a single application.

Any necessary conditions may be imposed by the LPA at the stage at which TDC is granted. This will also be the stage at which planning obligations, and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) would apply.

Sensitive sites

Whilst it is intended that PPIPwill help bring forward suitable sites for development more quickly, it is recognised that this might not be appropriate where sites have particular constraints and sensitivities – such as the proximity of heritage assets, contamination and flood risk.

PPIP will only be granted where screening has determined that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is not necessary, or where after an EIA is produced, the LPA is satisfied that appropriate measures are in place to mitigate significant effects. Where they apply, any requirements of any Habitats Regulations Assessments would also need to be met.

Consultation arrangements for PPIP

The consultation states that where PPIP is proposed on allocation in local and neighbourhood plans, the Government considers that existing consultation arrangements provide an appropriate framework for involving communities and appropriate specialist bodies. For PPIP applications it is proposed to set consultation arrangements for involvement of communities and statutory consultees that are in line with requirements for planning applications.

Duration of in principle permissions

The proposed duration of PPIP will depend on whether they are allocated by the LPA or whether they are determined by application. The proposed maximum duration of PPIP on allocation would be five years.

On applications for PPIP, there are two proposals:

  • three years, in line with the duration of outline permissions;
  • one year, to encourage technical details consent to be brought forward quickly.

Once TDC is granted by the LPA, it is proposed that the same standard conditions limiting the duration of permission to three years will be implied as it the case for other planning permissions.

Proposed maximum determination periods

The following maximum application determination periods are proposed:

Click here to view the table.

The stated purpose of the proposed process for PPIP is to give early certainty about the acceptability of a development and to improve the overall efficiency of the planning system as a whole.

Views are sought in particular on the proposed qualifying documents, the proposed application route for PPIP, the 'in principle matters' sensitive areas, consultation, information requirements, duration and TDC and the proposed determination periods.The stated purpose of the proposed process for PPIP is to give early certainty about the acceptability of a development and to improve the overall efficiency of the planning system as a whole.

The consultation closes Friday 15 April 2016.