Housing and Planning Act 2016: Essential guide to PIPs

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Housing and Planning Act 2016: Essential guide to PIPs

Housing and Planning Act 2016: Essential guide to PIPs

Jennie Baker 24 May 2016

Update 15 June 2018: The Government has published updated guidance on permission in principle – notably the application procedures for PiP and technical details consent.  The complete up-to-date guidance is available here.

4 January 2018: Applications for permission in principle (PIP) for minor residential development of land, the main purpose of which is housing development, may be submitted to LPAs from 1 June 2018, when the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) (Amendment) Order 2017 comes into force .

The amendment Order provides the necessary procedures for implementing the Housing and Planning Act 2016’s provision for making an application for PIP, for sites of between 1 and 9 new houses.

The Government is preparing guidance for PIP applications.

The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 - in force from 17 January 2018 – introduce a fee for PIP of £402 per 0.1 of a hectare. This fee will apply to PIP proposals falling within Categories 1-3 of the amendment Fee Regulations.

See our more recent blog for more details.

UPDATE. 28 July 2017: Note also that planning practice guidance regarding brownfield registers and permission in principle was published by the Government on 28 July 2017.

UPDATE. 23 March 2017: The Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) Order 2017 and the Town and Country Planning (Brownfield Land Register) Regulations 2017 have been laid, and come into force on 15 April 2017 and 16 April 2017 respectively.

The Permission in Principle Order 2017 will provide permission in principle for land allocated in a brownfield land register.

See our blog for more details. 

One of the fundamental changes to the planning regime included in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (HPA 2016) is ‘Permission in principle’ or ‘PIP’ (s150).

PIP is a new route for obtaining planning permission for housing-led development. Designed by the government to speed-up housing delivery and provide greater certainty of the development potential of residential sites (including for small scale builders), the objective is to boost investor confidence in the development of land by separating decision-making on ‘in principle’ matters (e.g. land use, location and amount of development) from technical details.

PIPs may be granted for ‘housing-led’ development of land in England; a consequent application for technical details consent (TDC) has then to be determined in accordance with the permission in principle. The result would be the grant of full planning permission.

A PIP may be granted for housing-led development either on application to the local planning authority (LPA) (or Secretary of State (SoS) in some instances), or through qualifying documents (QDs). QDs are development plan documents, neighbourhood plans or the brownfield register that meet the criteria in section 59(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which has been inserted by s150 of the HPA 2016.

The government committed to legislating for a ‘brownfield register’ of ‘land suitable for housing in the Queen’s Speech 2015 and the 73 councils piloting the brownfield register were announced in March, 2016. Section 151 of the Act permits regulations requiring LPAs to keep a register of particular kinds of land, of which the brownfield register will be one.
PIP legislation in the Housing and Planning Act 2016
  • The LPA (or SoS) may grant by development order permission in principle for housing-led development either on application to the LPA or through qualifying documents (QDs): development plan documents, neighbourhood plans or the brownfield register (either when they take effect, or are revised)
  • A PIP takes effect when the QD identifying the land is adopted/made/published/revised
  • A development order may specify the date that the PIP takes effect
  • A PIP granted by a development order ceases to have effect five years after it come into effect, or such longer or shorter period directed by the LPA. It will not necessarily cease if a QD no longer has effect or is revised.  A PIP granted by a LPA ceases to have effect three years after it comes into effect.  The SoS may amend the standard time limits by regulations (which must be approved by each House of Parliament).
  • The LPA must determine the technical details consent in accordance with the PIP (i.e. the in principle matters cannot be re-opened), unless the PIP has been in force for longer than the period specified in the Order (i.e. it has expired), or unless there has been a ‘material change’ in circumstances
  • TDC should address all further matters to be considered to enable planning permission – there should no further ‘reserved matters’
  • LPAs should have regard to guidance (see below) issued by the SoS relating to PIPs
  • An extant PIP on a site will not preclude the submission of a planning application
PIP regulations may state…
According to the Act:
  • The LPA must keep a register of information related to PIPs granted by the order
PIP regulations might state…
  • That location, uses and amount of residential development should be the only ‘in principle matters’ determined at PIP stage
  • A minimum and maximum amount of residential development for PIP
  • That allocation will be by future (as opposed to existing) neighborhood and/or local plans
  • The circumstances where a PIP for EIA development, or development affected by the Habitats Directive may or may not be granted
  • Consultation and application submission requirements, and determination period
  • TDC application must be submitted as a single application and not broken into parts
  • Conditions may be attached to the TDC, which may also be subject to planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • Where a PIP or TDC is refused there will be a right of appeal
Brownfield register regulations may…
  • set out criteria the land must meet for inclusion, include a part which lists site, and a part which grants a PIP, that in preparing the register the LPA must have regard to matters such as the development plan and national policy and advice, allow some local authority discretion as to which land to exclude, require consultation
Timescales and details
  • Section 150 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 ‘Permission in principle for development of land’ inserts new ss58A and 59A, and new subsections to s70, into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Section 150 is due to commence on 12 July, 2016.
  • The government may require registers of land on a statutory basis, following the commencement of s151 on 12 May 2016. However, regulations specifying the nature of those registers, in this case brownfield register, are also necessary.
  • Amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (the provisions refer to a development order) are necessary to introduce the procedure for making PIPs via application, or the brownfield register/ QDs.
  • We anticipate that regulations relating to PIPs and the brownfield registers will be laid by the end of 2016. Local authorities will probably be considering the sites that could form part of the register, as part of their plan making function (we do not think this will be limited to those involved in the brownfield register pilot)
  • The timescale for allocation of PIPs via QDs is, of course, related to the timescale for adoption/making/publication/revision of those documents (and likely to be subject of transitional arrangements).

Further blogs in this series cover starter homesplanning provisions, and the Act’s commencement; further regulations on commencement are also covered.