From 1 June 2018 the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) (Amendment) Order 2017 (“the 2017 Order”) will come into force which will allow applicants to apply for Permission in Principle directly from a Local Planning Authority (“LPA”). Currently Permission in Principle is only granted for housing-led developments allocated in Part 2 of the LPA’s brownfield land register. Further information on Permission in Principle relating to brownfield land registers can be found here but this update will focus on the provisions of the 2017 Order.


The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 introduced a new route for authorising developments where the main purpose of the development is housing. Permissions in Principle provide an alternative to the sometimes uncertain path of applying for “conventional” planning permission.

The 2017 Order

The key addition of the 2017 Order, which runs alongside the regime the imposed by the original order, is that Permission in Principle is no longer confined to the parameters of brownfield land and that applicants can apply for Permission in Principle directly from a LPA.

The 2017 Order states that if an LPA grants Permission in Principle it must specify the minimum and maximum number of dwellings which are, in principle, permitted. The 2017 Order further provides that if the application includes non-housing development aspects then the LPA must specify the scale of the development permitted, in principle, and the permitted use. Whilst an application may have non-housing aspects to it, the main purpose of the development must still be for housing. The courts have yet to have their say on the elasticity of “main purpose” and how far they will let developers stretch it.

If Permission in Principle is obtained applicants must then apply for “technical details consent” in order to gain the authorisation needed to carry out the development. The technical details consent provides details on more technical matters such as what the building will look like (akin to reserved matters).

The procedural and publicity requirements that apply to Permission in Principle applications are substantially similar to those that apply to standard planning permissions.

The LPA must give a decision 5 weeks after the application is received (unless the applicant agrees to an extension) but if Permission in Principle is refused this decision can be appealed.

Exempted Developments

LPAs cannot grant Permission in Principle for the following developments:

  • Developments for the provision of 10 or more dwellings; developments where the floor space to be created is 1,000 square metres or more; or development carried out on a site having an area of one hectare or more;
  • Developments which are likely to have a significant effect on a European site or a European offshore marine site and are not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site;
  • Developments of an existing dwelling, or within the curtilage of such a dwelling for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling; or
  • Developments that require an Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out (subject to limited exceptions).


The significance and use of Permission in Principle is yet to be determined as the regime is still in its infancy. However, the widening of its scope may benefit developers who desire fast decisions on small-scale residential or housing-led mixed-use developments, at lower cost and risk. Furthermore, whilst it may be an attractive alternative in some cases, its use will be limited to minor developments owing to the breadth of the exemptions.

Unlike under the original order, where Permission in Principle was given “as of right” for listed brownfield sites, LPAs may grant Permission in Principle under the 2017 Order or refuse it, or could later refuse the technical details consent.

Before applying to the LPA for Permission in Principle applicants should remember to check Part 2 of the brownfield land register to see if it has already been granted for the site.

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.