Liz Shield of SF Planning on Permission in Principle - a useful tool for small-scale developments
By Liz Shield
Within the last two years, local planning authorities have been able to grant Planning in Principle as an alternative to a traditional grant of planning permission for certain developments.
The purpose of a PiP is to provide confirmation that the principle of a small-scale development is acceptable before committing to the full planning process.
Liz Shield, a planning consultant at Gloucestershire-based planning experts SF Planning, looks into what a developer needs to look at when considering a PiP.
At SF Planning, we are now beginning to recommend PiP submissions where appropriate, and we have been able to secure some of the first PiP decisions in Gloucestershire.
In general, PiP applications can be made where a developer is proposing a small, primarily residential development.
The development must be between one and nine dwellings, not create more than 1,000 square metres of floor space and cover no more than one hectare, and not otherwise require an Environmental Impact or Habitats Regulation Assessment.
A scheme can include non-residential development, but the majority of floor space within in it should be residential.
The PiP allows developers to gauge whether a site is worth investing a potentially significant amount of time and money in, for example, to prepare environmental reports.
It may be preferable to seeking outline, or full, planning permission because it requires a lot less information upfront.
Once the PiP has been obtained, a developer must apply for Technical Details Consent (TDC) in order to proceed. A TDC may cover matters such as design, flood risk and ecology.
It is only at the TDC stage that LPAs can impose conditions or seek planning obligations, and effectively the TDC becomes the 'planning permission' that authorises work to start.
All TDC submissions are required to be made within three years of the PiP, which means it's not ideal for those developers who like to deal with everything in one go before selling a site and moving on.
PiPs are especially useful for certain brownfield sites or sites within, or close to, built-up areas.
It is also useful in situations where environmental information hasn't been, or cannot be obtained at present - such as ecological surveys which must be done at specific times of the year.
PiPs are also useful where there is a maximum number of dwellings in mind, but the developer is not entirely sure how many can or will be delivered in practise.
It can also be used where there may be a level of commercial risk and a developer doesn't wish to spend a lot of money at an early stage in the process.
Some of the positive aspects of the process include the fact that there are no 'validation requirements', which can sometimes result in delays in getting ordinary planning applications accepted.
The application should ordinarily be determined within five weeks, so it is quicker than the standard planning application process too.
There are still going to be circumstances where it would be preferable to apply for planning permission rather than a PiP, and SF Planning advises clients on all potential avenues for gaining permission for residential development.
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