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Housing and Planning Bill Consultation: Permission in Principle

The Housing and Planning Bill, as currently drafted, introduces a new 'permission in principle' route for obtaining planning permission in respect of 'housing led' developments. The rationale is to separate decision making on 'in principle' issues (such as land use, location and amount of development) from matters of technical detail. The Bill sets the overarching framework for permission in principle to be granted in two ways:

1. On allocation in an adopted locally supported qualifying document that identifies sites as having permission in principle; and
2. On application to the local planning authority (in respect of minor developments).

A Local Planning Authority ("LPA") may grant or refuse permission in principle, but will not be able to grant it subject to conditions. Subsequently, 'Technical Details Consent' will be required, in addition to permission in principle before full planning permission is granted. At this stage, an LPA will not be able to re-open or reconsider the principle of development, but Technical Details Consent can be refused if proposed details are not acceptable and the LPA may include such conditions it considers appropriate.

The detailed provisions regarding the operation of permission in principle will be set out in a Development Order (secondary legislation). On the 18 February 2016 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on the implementation in England of the planning changes within the Housing and Planning Bill. In respect of permission in principle, the areas for consultation (to help shape this secondary legislation) are:

i. The qualifying documents that can grant permission in principle on allocation (current proposals are for the qualifying documents to be: future local plans; future neighbourhood plans and brownfield registers).
ii. Permission in principle on application.
iii. The 'in principle matters' (location, use and amount of development).
iv. Sensitive areas.
v. Involvement of the community and others.
vi. Information requirements.
vii. Durations of permission in principle and technical details consent.
viii. Maximum determination periods.

The consultation document provides further information on how compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") Directive and Habitats Directive will be achieved as part of the permission in principle process. Currently it is proposed that for certain sites, this assessment will need to be carried out prior to the grant of permission in principle (i.e. before the technical details stage). Where an LPA considers that an EIA is required, it would be required to carry out an EIA, including consultation, to ensure that any measures needed to address the significant effects of the proposal are in place, prior to grant of permission in principle. Similar requirements are envisaged in respect of the Habitats Directive.

The consultation document proposes that permission in principle granted in respect of sites allocated in qualifying documents, will have a maximum duration of 5 years (a review of the plan or register granting permission in principle would need to be carried out in order to extend the duration). For permission in principle granted on application (for minor development), either a 3 or 1 year duration is proposed. Technical details consent is likely to be subject to the standard duration of 3 years.

The document also sets out proposed maximum determination periods for permission in principle on application and technical details consent.

Application: Determination period:
Permission in principle for minor applications 5 Weeks
Technical details consent for minor sites 5 Weeks
Technical details consent for major sites 10 Weeks

The consultation run until 11.45 pm on 15 April 2016 and is open to anyone with an interest in the proposals. The full consultation document can be accessed here.

For further short articles on the other areas included within the consultation please click here.

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