Expert Insights

Expert Insights

Permission in principle – eight things you need to know

  1. What is it? The introduction of permission in principle (PIP) allows you to obtain permission for the principle of proposed development. You can then apply for technical details consent at a later stage. A PIP plus a technical details consent is equivalent to a full planning permission.
  2. What does it apply to? It only applies to development which is residential or predominantly residential. Appropriate non-residential uses may include, for example, limited retail or community uses. Certain types of development are exempt from being granted PIP, including most development requiring environmental impact assessment or that would be prohibited under habitats protection legislation.
  3. How do I obtain it? The practical effect of PIP is limited at present. PIP is granted automatically for certain sites on brownfield land registers being prepared by local authorities. Once secondary legislation is in place, it is intended that PIP will be granted for certain sites allocated in development plan documents (eg local plans or neighbourhood plans). Alternatively, you will be able to apply directly for PIP for non-major development.
  4. What are relevant considerations as to whether PIP should be granted? As with any planning application, the authority will consider whether the PIP accords with the development plan unless material considerations dictate otherwise. Those considerations include the National Planning Policy Framework and associated national guidance. The decision should focus on the location, land use and amount of development. Everything else follows at technical details stage.
  5. And what about technical details consent? The application must accord with the terms of the PIP and, again, the development plan unless material considerations dictate otherwise. A fee is payable at this stage. Applications should be determined within the statutory time limits of 10 weeks for major development and 5 weeks for minor development. If your application for consent is refused or not determined within those limits, you may appeal. Conditions that comply with national guidance may be imposed and section 106 planning obligations may also be sought at this stage. Community infrastructure levy may also apply.
  6. Remind me about brownfield registers … By 31 December 2017, local planning authorities need to have prepared registers of brownfield sites in their area that are suitable for residential development. These sites should be included in Part 1 of the register. Local planning authorities should also consider the suitability of sites for the granting of PIP and undertake consultation. If sites are suitable for PIP, the details should be entered into Part 2 of the register. The register should provide an indication of the development to which PIP applies ie the maximum and minimum number of dwellings and type and scale of non-residential development permitted.
  7. My site has PIP. How long do I have to seek technical details consent? Where a site appears on Part 2 of a brownfield register, you generally have 5 years to obtain technical details consent, but this can be shortened or extended by the local planning authority.
  8. Do we really need another type of permission? Good question. We already have full permissions, outline permissions and permitted development (whether or not subject to prior approval). The original aim of PIP was to help residential developers of small sites get the certainty that development would be acceptable, so they can obtain funding without incurring the cost of a full or outline permission. It remains to be seen how useful it will be in practice.

This article was written by Claire Fallows, Head of Planning, for more information please contact Claire on +44(0)20 7427 1046 or

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