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Permission in principal applications in England go live

A new route to planning permission arrived on Friday 1 June, when applications for permission in principle (PIP) for small housing developments can now be made to local authorities in England.

The Planning Portal has the forms ready to go for what has been described as one of the most significant changes to the planning system since outline permission was introduced 60 years ago. However, no-one is expecting demand to crash the Portal’s servers. Rather, the attitude appears to be one of, ‘let’s wait and see if anyone can see the advantage of using PIP.’

The scope of PIP is limited to location, land use and the amount of development. Unless sites are subject to EIAs or habitats legislation, any site can be considered for PIP for minor developments of up to nine homes and under 1,000sqm of commercial floor space on a site of less than one hectare. Regardless of the mix, the main purpose of the development must be housing.

Once PIP is established, full planning permission requires only technical details consent (TDC). However, Roland Karthaus, director of Matter Architecture and also a RIBA Planning Group member, says it is too early to know if PIP will be taken up: “It’s adding to the complexity of the system. PIP is not dissimilar to outline planning and technical detail consent is not fundamentally different from detailed planning. It seemed to start out as an attempt to introduce a form of zoning, but that is not the way our planning process works.”

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