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Should you apply for Planning Permission in Principle?

May 18, 2022

By Laura Potts MRTPI, CAD Planning

Planning Permission in Principle is a relatively new route for obtaining planning permission that came into effect on 1st June 2018. Essentially, Planning Permission in Principle (PIP) is designed to increase the efficiency of the planning process and help to deliver more homes.

What is the Planning Permission in Principle consent route?

The Planning Permission in Principle consent route is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission for housing-led development. It separates the consideration of matters of principle for proposed development from the technical detail of the development.

The Planning Permission in Principle consent route has two stages. The first stage (or permission in principle stage) establishes whether a site is suitable in principle and the second (‘technical details consent’) stage is when the detailed development proposals are assessed.

Development cannot proceed until a Technical Details Consent has been granted.

What type of development does Planning Permission in Principle apply to?

Planning Permission in Principle is only applicable to developments with the following features:

· 1 to 9 dwellings

· Occupying a site of less than half a hectare if located on greenfield land, or one hectare if the land is included on the brownfield register

· Where commercial schemes are combined with residential, the proposal must be for less than 1,000 square metres of commercial floorspace

Not every element of the development under Planning Permission in Principle has to be for housing, but it should be housing-led.

This means that the residential element must occupy the majority of the floorspace. In addition, any non-residential elements included should be compatible with the residential element.

How is Planning Permission in Principle achieved?

There are three different routes:

· by inclusion of the site on the local planning authority’s brownfield register

· by direct application to the local planning authority

· by inclusion in a development plan document or neighbourhood plan.

What matters are within the scope of a decision on whether to grant Planning Permission in Principle?

The scope of Planning 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 Planning Permission in principle stage. Other matters should be considered at the technical details consent stage.

In addition, local authorities cannot list the information they require for applications for Planning Permission in Principle in the same way they can for applications for planning permission.

How much time do you have to apply for the technical details consent?

Where Planning Permission in Principle is granted by application, the default duration of that permission is 3 years. Where it 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.

What are the benefits of Planning Permission in Principle?

Essentially, Planning Permission in Principle was designed to be a more straightforward and cost-effective route for developers to assess the feasibility of sites for development. The overall cost and financial risk should be less, due to level of information required and therefore the associated professional fees. it allows the applicant to establish whether a site is suitable for homes or not, without going to the expense of a full-blown planning application.

The process has the advantage of being far simpler even than outline planning applications and therefore has a much cheaper planning fee.

What are the potential drawbacks of Planning Permission in Principle?

This type of application is only available for smaller residential sites that do not have habitat issues or are likely to be covered by environmental impact legislation. Planning in Principle cannot be used for householder applications, major applications, applications which involve Environmental Impact Assessments and Habitats, or Schedule 1 development (e.g. strategic applications including mining, chemical installations, pipelines, runways, motorways, power stations, amongst other applicaitons)

There is sometimes a concern that, because the level of information required is less detailed, planning authorities may be more cautious when deciding on the amount of acceptable development at this stage, and therefore less likely to approve. This risk can only be assessed on a case by case basis.

Some also argue that taking the Planning Permission In principle route can lead to less design flexibility in when it comes to the technical details stage.

Is Planning Permission in Principle right for your project?

To assess this, we would recommend getting specialist advice.

Our dedicated CAD Planning Consultancy is highly experienced at dealing with matters relating to Planning Permission in Principle. They are also in regular dialogue with the local planning authority and have expert insight into the factors that are driving planning decisions. They can help you develop a strategy that offers the very best chance of a successful outcome.

More information on Planning in Principle can be found on the Governments Planning Guidance website –

For a no-obligation discussion about your project, contact us now at