Background

The Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 came into force in April 2017 and the regulations required Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to prepare and maintain a register of brownfield land (ie previously developed land) that is considered to be suitable for residential development.  Brownfield registers provide up-to date, publicly available information on brownfield land that is suitable for housing development and which can provide for five or more dwellings; is 0.25 hectares in size and suitable, available and achievable.  This is Part 1 of the Register.

Presently, Spelthorne's Brownfield Register Part 1 has been published with a total of 25 sites included on it.  They contain sites that have planning permission, or are allocations in the adopted local plan, 2009.  In due course the register will be extended to include relevant sites that have been submitted through the Council's Strategic Land Availability Assessment or appropriate sites which meet the criteria.  Part 1 of the Brownfield Land Register does not affect the status of sites that already have planning permission or are allocated in the adopted Local Plan for development.  The inclusion of other sites on the register does not give them any formal status, or grant permission in principle, or in any sense infer that planning permission will be granted for development.  The Brownfield Land Register will be subject to periodic review and through ongoing refinement further sites will be added whilst others may be removed

Sites on Part 1 may be entered by the LPA onto Part 2 of the LPAs Brownfield Register.  This is subject to undertaking the necessary requirements for publicity, notification and consultation.  When this happens, they are automatically granted Permission in Principle (PiP).  There are currently no sites on part 2.

From 1 June 2018 the Town and Country (Permission in Principle) (Amendment) Order 2017 will come into force which will allow applicants to apply for Permission in Principle directly from a LPA for residential development of land.  This applies to development where the "main purpose" is housing but some non-residential development may also be proposed.  No definition of the "main purpose" has been given and the elasticity of this has yet to be tested.

PiP provides an alternative to the typical path of applying for planning permission.  Unlike the original Order where PiP is given 'as of right' to brownfield sites listed on Part 2 of the register, under the new Order LPAs may grant PiP proposals or refuse them.  Therefore, as PiP is no longer confined purely to brownfield land, applications to the LPA for PiP can be submitted on all types of land, unless exempted by the regulations.  An example of an exemption is habitats development where development is likely to have a significant effect on a European site.  This application procedure is restricted to minor development comprising a maximum of up to nine dwellings, floorspace of under 1,000 sq. m or a site area of less than one hectare.  The application for PiP must express the proposed development as a range and be accompanied by a form and a location plan. 

LPAs are required to advertise PiP applications by displaying a site notice on or near the site and advising that representations must be made within a period of not later than 14 days.  There is no requirement to write to adjoining residents.  The period currently given to third parties to respond on planning application is 21 days.

The time period for a decision on a PiP is five weeks from the date of receipt.  If the applicant is willing, it is possible to agree an extension of time to the determination period.  The current period for the determination of planning applications of this nature is eight weeks.  PiP applications can be refused and, if this is the case, this refusal can be appealed.  If a decision is not made within the prescribed five weeks period there is no automatic permission although the applicant can appeal on the basis of a non-determination. 

When granting PiP, the LPA must specify the minimum and maximum number of dwellings which are permitted in principle.  In relation to any non-housing development, the LPA is required to specify the scale of the development which is permitted and its use.

If PiP is granted by the LPA, applicants must then apply for Technical Details Consent (TDC) in order to obtain the authorisation required to carry out the building of the development.  The TDC provides greater detail on the technical matters associated with the development such as the design and appearance.  The determination period for TDC applications for up to 9 dwellings will be five weeks.  The determination period for TDCs involving major schemes (which do not involve an environmental Impact Assessment) will be 10 weeks.  However, TDC applications for major schemes (over 10 units or more) will only follow by virtue of PiPs being on Part 2 of the Brownfield Register or if a PiP is secured through a Local Plan allocation (the regulations relating to the latter have not been received) and not through the application process which is limited to minor development as specified in 1.4 above.

The application process is, therefore, essentially a two stage one:

  • Permission in Principle (PiP) stage - where the LPA settles the question of whether the site is suitable for development in principle and how much development the site is suitable for
  • Technical details consent (TDC) stage - where the LPA assesses the detailed scheme.

Planning in Principle diagram

The process is not dissimilar to the current process of an Outline Planning Application with all matters reserved, followed by a Reserved Matters application for details relating to appearance, means of access, landscaping, layout and scale which will continue to exist.  However, the LPA has a much shorter time period to determine PIP and TDC applications.  The time period for the determination of the current application system is 8 weeks for both outline and reserved matters.

The planning application fee for a PiP will be calculated on the same basis as an Outline Planning Application.  Further details including the application forms will be available from www.planningportal.co.uk in due course.