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Articles Planning 12th Apr 2017

Planning Permission in Principle – No Need for Outline Permission on Brownfield Land

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016 that introduced permissions in principle. To enable the permission in principle to be utilised, sub-ordinate legislation is required on the detail of how the provisions are to operate.

The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 comes into force on 15 April 2017 and the Town and County Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 comes into force on 16 April 2017, which provide the detail on how the permissions in principle will operate for brownfield land.

The required order has not yet been published regarding local and neighbourhood plans to enable permissions in principle to be granted on the basis of those plans. As such, at present permission in principle only applies to land in a formal Brownfield Land register and LPA’s do not have to have prepared their Brownfield Land register until the end of 2017.

The effect of a permission in principle is similar to an outline planning permission, where approval is then only needed for details, but with the opportunity to secure any required mitigation and infrastructure contributions. Permissions in principle will be granted when local authorities or neighbourhood groups choose to allocate housing-led development in future local and neighbourhood plans or identify it on brownfield registers. The technical details stage will provide the opportunity to assess and approve the detailed design, ensure appropriate mitigation of impacts and that contributions to essential infrastructure are secured.

The main effect of the provisions is summarised below:

Permission in principle

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced the following provisions:

  • Permission in principle takes effect when the qualifying document (such as local and neighbourhood plan or brownfield register) takes effect, if the land in question is allocated for such development in that document at that time.
  • Permission in principle granted by a development order is not brought to an end by the qualifying document ceasing to have effect or being revised.
  • Permission in principle granted by a development order ceases on the expiration of 5 years beginning with the date on which it takes effect or any such other period beginning with the date as the local planning authority (LPA) may direct.
  • Permission in principle granted by the LPA (e.g. for minor developments) ceases on the expiration of 3 years beginning with the date on which it takes effect or any such other period beginning with the date as the LPA may direct.
  • LPA’s must have regard to the provisions of the development plan, any other material considerations and any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
  • The Councils are required to hold and maintain a register of all permissions in principle in their area.
  • Permission in principle may not be granted for the winning and working of minerals.

Brownfield land registers

Under the recently enacted sub-ordinate legislation, the following brownfield land provisions apply:

  • A duty is imposed on each LPA to prepare, maintain and publish a register in relation to brownfield land in its area. All registers must be prepared by 31 December 2017.
  • The register consists of Part 1 (land suitable for residential development) and Part 2 (land allocated for residential development).
  • LPAs must enter land in Part 1 if the land is suitable and available for residential development and such development is achievable on that land. Additionally, the land in question must have an area of at least 0.25 hectares or be capable of supporting at least 5 dwellings. If those two conditions are not satisfied, the LPA may still enter the land in Part 1 provided other conditions are satisfied.
  • Where the land has been entered in Part 1, the LPA must also enter it in Part 2 if none of the exemptions apply. Important exemptions include that permissions in principle (Part 2) cannot be granted for EIA or habitats development under the EU Directives and related UK legislation.
  • Permission in principle is granted to any land entered in Part 2 only of the brownfield land registers in relation to both housing and non-housing developments.
  • The LPA can set a date when permission in principle in relation to any particular allocations come into force.

Technical details consent

The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 also sets out the following:

  • An application for technical details consent must be determined by the LPA in accordance with the relevant permission in principle, development plan and local and national policy.
  • An application for technical details consent must propose development all of which falls within the terms of the permission in principle and particularise all matters to enable full planning permission to
  • The determination period for an application for technical consent for major development will be 10 weeks beginning with the day immediately following that on which the application is received by the LPA.
  • The determination period for an application for technical consent for non major development will be 5 weeks beginning with the day immediately following that on which the application is received by the LPA.
  • An appeal in relation to a decision for an application for technical consent must be made within 6 months from the date of the notice of the decision or determination giving rise to the appeal and must include details of the relevant permission in principle.

Our view

The procedure appears to be a useful planning tool to kick-start development of housing and brownfield sites. The programming for the delivery of development can be brought forward if permission in principle for a development is secured. This will also provide certainty for developers and investors enabling investment, potentially in more difficult sites to deliver. At this stage, the mechanism can be used for brownfield land and the Government intends to publish the order for permissions in principle based on local and neighbourhood plans separately.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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