Chapter 4 (§38) of the Framework (2018) states “local planning authorities should approach decisions on proposed development in a positive and creative way. They should use the full range of planning tools available, including brownfield registers and permission in principle…”. See also §001 & §003 of the Guidance.
So what is a permission in principle (PiP)? Based on first-hand experience, we have successfully used the PiP route to demonstrate that a small site in south Leeds has the potential to deliver 4 or 5 dwellings moving forward. All we had to do is complete a short application form and submit a red line boundary plan. The PiP came into force on 1 June 2018 and unbeknown to us this was the first PiP to be submitted to a local planning authority in England.
It must be remembered that PiP can only be sought on sites (unless sites are subject to EIAs or habitats legislation) for minor developments of up to nine homes and under 1000sqm of commercial floorspace on a site of less than one hectare; once PiP is established, full planning permission requires only technical details consent (TDC). The granting of TDC has the effect of granting planning permission for the development.
For larger brownfield sites the alternative route to PiP is through their inclusion within Part 2 of a brownfield register.
Our PiP was granted in July 2018. So after initially being put off by the costs of a full planning application, the client is now in a position, where he can decide with an increased level of certainty whether to front the costs of the TDC or seek an unconditional offer from the numerous SME developers currently showing an interest in the site.
Based on years of experience it is unnerving when planning runs this smoothly. The pessimist in me (and I hope to be proved wrong) sees the grant of TDC being more difficult than obtaining a reserved matters consent following the granting of outline permission. In order to protect themselves local planning authorities may seek the submission of documents over and above those sought through formal validation checklists. It is however hoped that in determining a TDC, local planning authorities have regard to the Framework (§44) which states “local planning authorities should only request information that is relevant, necessary and material to the application in question”.
As is required by the Framework, the local planning authority’s approach to PiP in this case has been positive. It appears there are tangible benefits to PIP. However, in the context of delivering more homes and offering future opportunities for SME developers, it is important that the granting of TDC retains its focus and does not become overly onerous.
Watch this space…
Richard Mowat MRTPI
Director, Johnson Mowat