Since 1 June 2018 applications can be made to local planning authorities for “Permission in Principle” (PiP) for minor, housing-led developments:  
  • of between 1 and 9 dwellings;
  • of less than 1,000m2; and
  • on a site of 1ha or less

Applications for PIP cannot be made for major development, householder development, development subject to the habitats assessment or Schedule 1 EIA development. Schedule 2 EIA development may benefit from PiP further to a negative screening opinion.

Whilst the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 was made last year, it has, up until 1 June, only been possible for PiP to be granted through the local authority allocating land in its brownfield register.

PiP simplifies the ‘in principle’ decision

So, what is the difference between PiP and outline planning permission? Well, the stated aim of the introduction of PiP for minor development is to reduce the amount of technical information required compared to the outline consent process, reducing the amount of financial investment required before an “in principle” decision is given.

Accordingly, the scope of PiP is limited to location, land use and the amount of development. The local authority must specify in its decision the maximum and minimum[1] number of dwellings permitted, along with the scale of any permitted non-residential development and the use to which it may be put. Issues relevant to these matters should be considered at the PiP stage, with all other matters being considered at the technical details consent stage.

PiP included as ‘trigger event’

Following a grant of PiP, 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. The technical details consent application must specify all matters necessary to enable full planning permission to be granted for the whole site, i.e. there can be no “phasing” of the technical details consent. Conditions may only be imposed at the technical details stage

It will be interesting to see whether the PiP procedure encourages more development on riskier or more speculative sites. Interestingly, PiP is included as one of the “trigger events” precluding applications for registration of a town or village greens, and so could prove useful on sites where this is a particular threat to development.


[1] It will be interesting to see what the approach of LPAs will be in circumstances where the built development falls short of the minimum number of dwellings specified in the PiP.

About the author

John Gregory Head of Planning

John is a specialist planning lawyer with extensive experience of advising on all aspects of the planning process.