Ability to apply for permission in principle in force from 1 June 2018

From next month, 1 June 2018 to be precise, the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 ('the PIPO') will be amended to incorporate the ability to apply to a local planning authority ('LPA') for permission in principle. As first made on 20 March 2017 - see our earlier article here - the PIPO addressed only permission in principle being obtained via inclusion on the brownfield register.

The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle)(Amendment) Order 2017 inserts new provisions into the PIPO in the form of a new Part 2A. These new provisions provide that:


  • the LPA specifies the minimum and maximum number of dwellings permitted in principle if the project is housing development; and


  • for non-housing schemes, the LPA must specify the scale of development and the uses to which it can be put.


As previously announced, there are limitations on what types of development can be subject to applications. These are now confirmed as:


  • Major development: development of 10 or more dwellings, or having floorspace of 1,000sqm or more, or on a site area of 1 hectare or more.


  • Habitats development: development likely to have a significant effect on a European site or European offshore marine site.


  • Householder development.


  • Development falling within Schedule 1 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017. Development falling within Schedule 2 may be subject to permission in principle where (put briefly) screening has determined it is not development that should be subject to an environmental impact assessment.

The  procedure for making an application for permission in principle is then set out in new provisions (articles 5C-V). Applications must be made in writing using the relevant form, and be accompanied by a plan identifying the land. Applications are then publicised by the LPA on its website and by site notice. The standard determination period is 5 weeks or (in the usual way) such longer period as may be agreed. Further articles then deal with consultation and the appeals process.

Also of note, article 6 of the PIPO is amended such that a technical details application following the granting of permission in principle using the application method must be determined within 3 years.




From 1 June 2018, it will be possible to apply for permission in principle as well as securing it by dint of being on the brownfield register. This offers a relatively simple means of adding certainty to the development potential of land and in some circumstances may be a more effective means by which landowners promoting land for disposal and development can maximise value, when compared to the more typical route of obtaining outline planning permission. However, there are limits to what forms of development can go through this process.

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