Permission in Principle

Permission in principle is a new type of planning consent that came into force last year, to streamline the planning process for smaller housing-led developments.


Permission in principle appears to be a direct response to the problems which are commonly encountered when making ‘outline’ and ‘reserved matters’ planning applications. The aim of an outline application is to find out at an early stage whether or not a proposal is likely to be approved by the planning authority, before any substantial costs are incurred. This allows the finer details of appearance, access, landscaping, layout and scale to be dealt with in a later reserved matters application.


However, to establish the principle of residential development, even at outline stage, the applicant must address site constraints such as ecology, highways impact and flood risk. This incurs significant cost, especially for small-scale house builders.


A permission in principle offers an alternative to the traditional outline consent route, requiring only a ‘red edge’ drawing of the application site. The planning authority should consider only the principle of development and essentially provides a landowner with a planning permission which establishes that a housing-led development would be acceptable at the site. The process has two stages:


  1. Permission in Principle consent – key issues are considered by the authority, such as location and amount of development;
  2. Technical Details consent – the second application deals with all site constraints and the details of the proposed development.  If technical details consent is granted, then the site is deemed to have ‘full’ planning permission.


Another benefit of permission in principle is that it’s much quicker: the statutory period for the Local Authority to issue a permission in principle decision is just five weeks (with an extra five weeks for technical details consent).


Permission in principle is currently limited to small schemes where the majority of the site is for residential development.


At JWPC, we have supported a number of projects which have successfully used the permission in principle route to gaining housing-led consent. This type of permission would suit sites with a focus on residential development, or for increasing the value of land before a quick sale.


If you would like to discuss if your site is suitable for a permission in principle, please call us on 01524 599980.

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