Garden communities toolkit

Planning permission

Information about how to develop a planning permission strategy for your garden community.

Securing planning permission is an important milestone in delivering a garden community.

To keep your project on schedule, you need to develop a strategy for securing planning permission early in the life cycle of a garden community.

There are two different ways to secure permission– either traditional planning application route or Local Development Orders

Guide to developing a planning permission strategy

Your strategic approach needs to consider how planning applications will be made. 

To do this, you can follow these stages.

  1. clarify the main components and infrastructure of your garden community and the phasing arrangements for their delivery
  2. review this with the developers and promoters involved – identify constituent land parcels and factors which can affect the phasing of development delivery
  3. determine who’s submitting planning applications for the development. Will a single application or multiple applications be submitted?
  4. if multiple applications are needed, make sure there’s a strategic masterplan or other structuring document for the garden community in place and clarity on who’ll be responsible for delivering strategic infrastructure
  5. agree with developers and promoters the order in which planning applications will be made. Do this for  both the overarching infrastructure and constituent land parcels and understand how S106 Agreements will be structured to secure funding and delivery
  6. set out the agreement in a planning strategy or a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA)  agreed between relevant parties
  7. identify how the strategy or PPA will be reviewed over time to respond to changing circumstances

Different types of planning permission

  1. outline planning permission
  2. full application
  3. hybrid application
  4. local development orders

Choosing the most appropriate route to securing planning permission will help you identify any risks.

1. Outline planning permission

Establishes principle of development through a series of parameter plans and other information.  However, the details are reserved and agreed through later reserved matters applications for appearance, means of access, landscaping, layout and scale.

Find out more about outline planning permission on the Planning Portal website.


  • creates confidence for investment by enabling the principle of the proposed development to be established

  • planning application preparation time is initially shorter than for a full application

  • provides flexibility for the subsequent evolution of designs for development phases

When to use

  • to establish the principle and parameters of the development as a whole and to provide a mechanism for tying in a site wide masterplan and infrastructure delivery strategy, particularly where there are multiple landowners or developers

2. Full application

Provides all the details of a proposed development as part of the planning application. Some further details can be agreed through planning conditions.

Find out more about full applications on the Planning Portal website


  • enables development to commence following permission being granted (subject to conditions)

  • planning application preparation is often more lengthy but no further applications - other than discharge of conditions - will be needed (if for whole site) unless circumstances or the proposal changes

When to use

  • to bring forward a specific infrastructure element or phase of a garden community - perhaps for early delivery

  • if multiple applications are being submitted by different parties for different elements and/or parts of the garden community development

3. Hybrid application

Seeks outline planning permission for one part or element of a site, and full planning permission for another part or element of the same site.

Find out more about hybrid applications on the Planning Portal website


  • establishes the principle of development for a site as a whole, and detailed permission for individual elements or phases to speed up their delivery

  • elements can be decoupled at decision making stages if required

When to use

  • where your garden community needs delivery of particular core infrastructure that needs to be expedited while other aspects are agreed

  • your programme relies on delivery of an element of a garden community such as infrastructure by a certain stage, but wider details are still unknown

  • when there’s a need to bring forward part or an element of a garden community earlier than the rest, for example site access arrangements

4. Local development orders

Local development orders (LDOs) provide planning permission for specific classes of development within a defined area, subject to certain conditions and limitations.

They simplify the planning process and provide certainty for potential investors, developers and businesses.

Find out more about LDOs on the Panning Portal website


  • simplifies the planning process and provides certainty to developers and businesses

  • can speed up the planning programme – saving time and money for those involved in the planning and development process

  • LDOs are flexible and can be permanent or time limited

  • conditions can be attached to an LDO

  • if the development is all within one local authority you can use LDO for all, or part of your garden community project.

When to use

  • if you want to speed up delivery of a garden community and to streamline the planning process and there’s a robust masterplan or other framework and supporting evidence documents for the development to guide the LDO

  • there’s agreement to the use of the LDO process for the development from statutory consultees and main stakeholders

  • a locally led development corporation is established to deliver the garden community

  • custom or self-build homes are likely to form a significant component, so a simplified planning framework will be of value in guiding individual development proposals

Find out more about local development orders on the website

Further information