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Planning Permission in Principle

In recent years successive governments have committed to the idea of building more houses. While easy to promise in principle it is less easy to deliver in practice and one of the many barriers that can stand in the way is the issue of obtaining planning permission. With this in mind the Housing & Planning Act 2016 introduced a new planning concept which has scope to significantly change the planning process.

This new concept is the granting of 'planning permission in principle' (or PIP as it is coming to be called), as an amendment to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. As investors and developers will know, the planning process can be a lengthy and expensive one. Even before an application can be submitted there is a need to investigate the site, prepare proposals and line up finance - work and investment which may be fruitless if planning permission is subsequently declined.

PIP aims to reverse that situation for some prospective new housing-led developments in England. Under the new proposal, sites which have been identified for housing in Local Development Plans and Neighbourhood Plans, plus suitable brownfield sites, could essentially have automatic planning permission subject to agreement of the technical details. Developers will be able to pursue projects and invest money in plans with greater confidence knowing that permission is virtually 'in the bag'.

Additionally, there is another dimension to the idea of PIP. Under the new system, local authorities will be required to create a register of suitable brownfield or previously developed sites - effectively presenting developers with a readymade directory of sites which already have planning permission for development.

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