Guidance

Permission in principle

This guidance provides information about permission in principle - a new planning consent route.

Introduction to permission in principle

The permission in principle consent route is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission which separates the consideration of matters of principle for proposed development from the technical detail of the development. The permission in principle consent route has 2 stages: the first stage (or permission in principle stage) establishes whether a site is suitable in-principle for residential development (ie development in which the residential use occupies the majority of the floorspace), and the second (‘technical details consent’) stage is when the detailed development proposals are assessed.

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Revision date: 28 07 2017

How can permission in principle be granted for a site?

Local planning authorities can enter suitable sites in Part 2 of their brownfield land registers (subject to undertaking the necessary requirements for publicity, notification and consultation) which will trigger a grant of permission in principle. Once the necessary secondary legislation has been introduced, it will also be possible to obtain permission in principle through the local plan site allocation process or by an application for non-major development.

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Following a grant of permission in principle, the site must receive a grant of technical details consent before development can proceed. The granting of technical details consent has the effect of granting planning permission for the development and other statutory requirements may apply at this stage eg relating to protected species or listed buildings. Technical details consent can be obtained following submission of a valid application to the local planning authority. An application for technical details consent must be in accordance with the permission in principle that is specified by the applicant (eg by giving the reference number from the planning register) in the the technical details consent application form.

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Can all types of development be given a grant of permission in principle?

Permission in principle may be granted for residential development ie development in which the residential use occupies the majority of the floorspace. Non-residential development should be compatible with the proposed residential development. Appropriate non-residential uses may include, for example, a small proportion of retail, office space or community uses. The following types of development are specifically exempt from inclusion in a grant of permission in principle:

  • Development consisting of the winning and working of minerals
  • Development that would fall within Schedule 1 Environmental Impact Assessment development
  • Development that is Schedule 2 Environmental Impact Assessment development and has been screened as Environmental Impact Assessment development
  • Development that would be prohibited under habitats protection legislation

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Can local planning authorities grant permission in principle to sites that have been subject to a Habitats assessment?

Permission in principle must not be granted for development which is habitats development. Habitats development means development which is likely to have a significant effect on a qualifying European site or a European offshore marine site (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects), and is not directly connected with or necessary to the management of the site. Where following a habitats assessment the local planning authority is satisfied (including taking account of mitigation measures) that the site is not then habitats development, and subject to compliance with other statutory requirements regarding the permission in principle process, it can enter a site on Part 2 of its brownfield land register triggering the grant of permission in principle.

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If the local planning authority identifies at the technical details stage that the development proposal should be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the grant of permission in principle remains valid. The specific requirements set out in the EIA Regulations and other legislation relating to EIA development must then be met before technical details consent can be granted.

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How can permission in principle be granted through registers of brownfield land?

The local planning authority may grant permission in principle if it fulfils the requirements set out regulations 6 to 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 for entering a site in Part 2 of its brownfield land register which will trigger a grant of permission in principle for that land.

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Do site allocations in existing local or neighbourhood plans have a grant of permission in principle?

Site allocations in existing local or neighbourhood plans do not have a grant of permission in principle; however, planning applications should be decided in accordance with those site allocations unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

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Can permission in principle be granted on an area-wide basis?

A grant of permission in principle must relate to an identified site and cannot be granted on an area-wide basis.

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Do local planning authorities have to consider all sites in their brownfield land registers for permission in principle?

Local planning authorities should consider the suitability of all relevant sites on their brownfield land registers for a grant of permission in principle, taking into account relevant policies in the development plan and other material considerations. There may be cases where other routes to planning permission eg outline planning permission, are more appropriate.

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Decision-making

How must a decision on whether to grant permission in principle to a site be made?

A decision on whether to grant permission in principle to a site must be made in accordance with relevant policies in the development plan unless there are material considerations, such as those in the National Planning Policy Framework and national guidance, which indicate otherwise.

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What matters are within the scope of a decision on whether to grant permission in principle?

The scope of permission in principle is limited to location, land use and amount of development. Issues relevant to these ‘in principle’ matters should be considered at the permission in principle stage. Other matters should be considered at the technical details consent stage.

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Who decides whether to grant permission in principle?

When a local planning authority enters a site in Part 2 of a brownfield land register that will trigger the grant of permission in principle.

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Where permission in principle is granted through allocation on a brownfield land register, the default duration of that permission is 5 years. If the local planning authority considers it appropriate on planning grounds they may shorten or extend these periods, but should clearly give their justification for doing so. Applications for technical details consent must be determined within the 5 year or amended period.

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An application for technical details consent must be decided in accordance with the terms of the permission in principle granted for the site. The requirements that apply to decisions on other types of application for planning permission also apply, including that the decision must be made in accordance with relevant policies in the development plan unless there are material considerations, such as those in the National Planning Policy Framework and national guidance, which indicate otherwise.

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Where permission in principle is granted what information must be included on the brownfield land register?

Local planning authorities must specify the site, the type of development and provide an indication of the amount of development the site has permission in principle for. As a permission in principle is only available for residential development, the permission must state the amount of development expressed as a range, indicating the minimum and maximum net number of dwellings (ie taking in to account any existing dwellings on the site) which are, in principle, permitted. Where non-residential development is proposed, local planning authorities are required to provide a description of the type of development (eg by indicating the use classes of the buildings or land) and the scale of development permitted. This information should be provided on the entry on the brownfield land register.

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Once a valid application for technical details consent has been received, the local planning authority should make a decision on the proposal as quickly as possible, and in any event within the statutory time limit unless a longer period is agreed in writing with the applicant. The statutory time limits are 10 weeks for major development and 5 weeks for minor development (unless an application is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment in which case a 16 week limit applies).

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The application for technical details consent must specify (eg by giving the reference number from the planning register) the permission in principle to which the technical details consent relates. Where there is more than one grant of permission in principle for the site, the local planning authority should decide an application for technical details consent in accordance with the grant of permission in principle that has been specified by the applicant on the technical details consent application form.

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The technical details consent application must specify all matters necessary to enable full planning permission to be granted for the whole site.

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Can planning conditions be attached to a grant of permission in principle through a brownfield land register?

It is not possible for conditions to be attached to a permission in principle and its terms may only include the site location, the type of development and amount of development. Local planning authorities can inform applicants about what they expect to see at the technical details consent stage.

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It is possible for the local planning authority to attach planning conditions to a technical details consent providing they meet existing requirements around the use of conditions.

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Local planning authorities may agree planning obligations at the technical details consent stage where the statutory tests have been met. Planning obligations cannot be secured at the permission in principle stage.

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When is Community Infrastructure Levy liability triggered?

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) may apply to development consented through the permission in principle route if technical details consent has been granted. Charges will become due from the date that a chargeable development is commenced.

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Can a decision to refuse permission in principle be appealed?

There is no right of appeal where a local planning authority decides not to enter a site in Part 2 of a brownfield land register and trigger the grant of permission in principle. A person with an interest in a site has the option of submitting a planning application to the local planning authority.

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An application for technical details consent may be appealed on grounds of non-determination, refusal or against any condition imposed. The procedures in place for appeals against other types of planning application apply.

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If the technical details consent application is refused, the permission in principle is unaffected and (subject to the powers of local planning authorities to decline to consider repeat applications) the applicant has the option to submit a new technical details consent application. It should be noted that a permission in principle granted through allocation of land on a brownfield land register lasts for 5 years (unless the local planning authority provides for it to last a different period). A technical details consent application cannot be made by an applicant if the permission in principle has expired.

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Can a grant of permission in principle be revoked?

The removal of a site from a brownfield land register does not revoke permission in principle previously granted to that land. Local planning authorities have powers to modify or revoke a grant of permission in principle. Compensation may be payable and such powers should only be exercised in exceptional circumstances, and where there is no other alternative course of action.

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Can the Secretary of State call-in a decision on whether to grant a site permission in principle through a brownfield land register?

There is no power for the Secretary of State to call-in a decision on whether to enter a site in Part 2 of a brownfield land register and trigger the grant of permission in principle.

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The Secretary of State has powers to call-in applications for technical details consent. The existing policy on calling-in applications will apply to such applications.

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Consultation and notification

What consultation must be undertaken before sites entered on brownfield land registers can be granted permission in principle?

The consultation that must be undertaken before sites entered on brownfield land registers can be granted permission in principle is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017. Local planning authorities must consult bodies identified in Schedule 4 to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 if in their opinion the land within the site falls within the prescribed category, and take in to account any responses received. There are also requirements for consulting county planning authorities and the Mayor of London. Local planning authorities must also consult any body that they would have been required to consult in relation to an application for planning permission, for example under relevant consultation or safeguarding directions. Where consultation is required, the local planning authority should provide the statutory body with any relevant information it holds about the site.

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What are the notification requirements for permission in principle through brownfield land registers?

The notification that must be undertaken before sites entered on brownfield land registers can be granted permission in principle are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017. The Regulations specify requirements for notifying infrastructure managers for land within 10 metres of relevant railway land and parish councils and neighbourhood forums.

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Before granting technical details consent, the local planning authority must consult bodies identified in Schedule 4 to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 where they have notified the local planning authority, before it granted permission in principle to the site, that they wish to be consulted on the technical details consent application. Local planning authorities must also consult any body (not on Schedule 4) that they would have been required to consult in relation to an application for planning permission, for example under relevant consultation or safeguarding directions.

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How long do statutory consultees have to respond to a consultation where a grant of permission in principle is proposed for a site entered on a brownfield land register?

On the first draft of the brownfield land register, where multiple sites may be proposed for a grant of permission in principle, statutory consultees should provide a substantive response within 42 days. Thereafter, where statutory consultation is required in relation to a site entered on a brownfield land register which is proposed for a grant of permission in principle, statutory consultees should respond within 21 days.

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How long should non-statutory consultees take to respond to a consultation where a grant of permission in principle is proposed?

Non-statutory consultees should respond within the period specified by the local planning authority.

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Non-statutory consultees should respond within the period specified by the local planning authority.

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Can statutory bodies respond to consultations by directing local planning authorities to standing advice?

Statutory consultees can respond to consultations on permission in principle proposals and technical details consent applications by directing local authorities towards standing advice (providing that advice is less than 2 years old).

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For monitoring purposes, statutory consultees should treat applications for technical details consent as set out in article 23 of the Development Management Procedure Order 2015.

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Publicity

What publicity will take place to let bodies with an interest in the site and the wider public know that a site is proposed for a grant of permission in principle?

Regulation 6 of the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 sets out statutory requirements for sites entered on brownfield land registers. This requires a site notice and an online notice. It will be for local planning authorities to decide if they take further steps to inform communities and other interested parties beyond the statutory requirements.

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What is the time period for making comments where a site is proposed for a grant of permission in principle?

The time period for making comments will be set out in the local planning authority’s publicity including the required notices on the site and on the authority’s website. This will be not less than 21 days for the site notice and 14 days for the online notice. After the publicity period has ended the local planning authority can proceed to determine whether to grant permission in principle to the site. To ensure comments are taken in to account it is important to make comments before the statutory deadline.

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Site and online notices are valuable ways of alerting the public about an application and the publicity requirements for technical details consent applications mirrors the approach taken for planning applications. In addition, local planning authorities may decide to take further steps to notify communities and other interested parties about an application for technical details consent. Article 15 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 sets out minimum statutory requirements. There are additional arrangements for applications which may affect the setting of listed buildings which are set out in regulation 5A of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Regulations 1990.

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The time period for making comments will be set out in the local planning authority’s publicity including the required notices on the site and on the authority’s website. This will be not less than 21 days for the site notice and 14 days for the online notice. After the publicity period has ended the local planning authority can proceed to determine whether to grant technical details consent. To ensure comments are taken in to account it is important to make comments before the statutory deadline.

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Information

What information sources and tools should local planning authorities use to support decisions on whether to grant permission in principle?

Local planning authorities should draw on relevant existing information sources and tools to support decisions on whether a grant of permission in principle is appropriate. These may include local sources of evidence eg the development plan evidence base, historic environment records or landscape character assessments and external information sources and tools eg advice published by statutory consultees.

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Can an applicant or body with an interest in the land proposed for a grant of permission in principle supply further information to support decision-making?

Bodies with an interest in the land proposed for a grant of permission in principle, may volunteer additional information to support decision-making, in particular, to give more certainty about how many dwellings the site is capable of supporting and whether mitigation of likely impacts that may result from development is possible.

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The requirements for a valid technical details consent application are the same as those for an application for full planning permission.

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Can local planning authorities inform applicants about what they expect to see at the technical details stage?

When granting permission in principle to a site, local planning authorities can provide information on the relevant entry on the brownfield land register about what they expect the detailed proposals to include at the technical details stage. This information may include where further impact assessment is needed by the applicant or where a particular scheme of mitigation may be required. Applicants are encouraged to take account of this information when preparing a technical details consent application.

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Local planning authorities should take a proportionate approach to any information they request in support of applications for technical details consent, which should be relevant, necessary and material to the application in question. Local planning authorities are encouraged to consider whether this could be achieved by requesting that such information is provided in a single concise statement.

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A fee is payable for technical details consent.

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The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 requires that local planning authorities must include details in their planning register of any permission in principle granted by allocation of land in a brownfield land register. They are also required to maintain in the planning register details of applications for technical details consent in their area. The planning register is held at the local planning authority’s offices.

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Published 28 July 2017