‘Permission in principle’ to come into force on 15 April 2017

Legislation Update
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In a bid to increase the amount of housing built on previously developed land, the 2016 Housing and Planning Act included proposals to introduce ‘Permission in Principle’ (PiP) for housing-led developments on certain sites.   New regulations published last week will bring PiP into force this month in respect of some registered brownfield sites.

Which regulations are coming into force?

The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 comes into force on 15 April 2017, with the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 coming into force on 16 April 2017.

The government intends to publish further guidance to support the introduction of Brownfield Land Registers and PiP by June 2017, but this new secondary legislation sets the legislative framework for their use.

Brownfield Land Registers (BLR)

The Brownfield Land Register regulations require all LPAs to prepare and maintain up-to-date, publically available registers of brownfield sites available for housing locally.  Importantly, LPAs must publish their registers by 31 December 2017.

The new BLR will comprise two parts:

·      Part 1 will list previously developed land with an area of at least 0.25ha, (or land which is capable of supporting at least 5 dwellings) that is ‘suitable’ and ‘available’ for residential development, and where residential development is ‘achievable’. The Regulations define these terms – for example ‘achievable’ means that, in the opinion of the LPA, the development will take place within 15 years.

·      Part 2 will list land which the LPA has decided to allocate for residential development following prescribed publication and consultation procedures.

Entries in the BLR need to specify “the minimum and maximum net number of dwellings, given as a range, which in the authority’s opinion, the land is capable of supporting” and “where the development includes non-housing development, the scale of any such development and the use to which it is to be put“.

Any development that would be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be exempt from Part 2 of the register under the new regulations.

Permission in Principle (PiP)

PiP will automatically be granted for five years for development of land allocated in Part 2 of the BLR, subject to some exceptions.  Once PiP is granted, technical detailed consent will be needed to implement it and conditions may be attached.   The idea is that the principle of allowing a specified amount of housing on a site is established through the granting of PiP and that this is separated from the associated technical issues to give developers more certainty and reduce delays.

Usefully, PiP can be granted for the conversion and extensions of existing buildings to housing-led development as well as the redevelopment of sites for new housing.

The government’s press release issued today (3 April 2017) states:

‘Permission in principle’ will simplify the planning process for developers. It will give them more certainty over whether a site is suitable for development ahead of working up costly proposals to obtain full planning permission. This will encourage new development and increase the amount of land available to build on, helping to boost housing supply’.

Further legislation will follow at a later date, bringing PiP into force for land which is allocated for housing-led development in local plans and neighbourhood plans.

Impact of Permission in Principle

It is difficult to know exactly what impact PiP will have on the planning process and how quickly its effect will be seen.  What is certain, however, is that PiP represents a big change to the current planning system and may well prove to be an attractive alternative for developers seeking to secure permission for housing-led development on previously developed land.  73 local planning authorities have already piloted the new brownfield register and these authorities in particular are likely to be keen to publish the statutory BLR.

If you would like to discuss a specific brownfield site or any of the above, please feel free to contact one of the Firstplan team.