Planning in principle represents a new development in planning terms. We discuss what it means and offer our opinion on whether in practice it will achieve what the government hopes it will; the delivery of more homes on the housing market. And we outline how this could affect you too.
At first glance this new planning initiative, previously announced in the government’s housing white paper, and now being introduced, “planning in principle” seems to strike a middle ground between pre-application advice and full planning applications.
The government espouses that this new approach will help to deliver more new homes to the housing market, as developers can approach planners at a feasibility stage and receive a binding decision on whether or not their proposal for a given site would, in principle, achieve planning. The aim is that developers can save on the expenditure that currently they have to commit to for a full planning application, and thereby reduce the risk levels involved.
This new application process differs to receiving pre-application advice as planners are obliged to provide a binding decision, which for pre-app is not the case. Once this binding decision has been granted, the developer can then undertake the extra expense required to meet a full planning application safe in the knowledge that, in principle, their application will be granted, assuming that they meet all the standard planning policy requirements.
However, most are finding it difficult to discern any real difference between this and the already in place ‘outline planning’ – other than that ‘planning in principle’ is limited to primarily residential developments of up to nine units.
So will this new approach deliver?
Well, the industry so far appears to be mooting a “Let’s wait and see…” approach. Fundamentally it is going to come down to the time it takes for planners to provide their initial ‘in principle’ decision, and then process the ‘technical’ application that will follow to be granted full planning permission. If this process takes significantly more time than a planning application then the implied mitigation of financial risk offered by this route may well be negligible, or at worst represent an even more costly process.
So like everyone else, and as is so often the case when it comes to planning, we too at E2 are subscribing to a ‘wait and see’ approach… For some projects this route to planning could be worth testing, if you have a development opportunity we can discuss this with you.