Automatic permission in principle will not apply retrospectively

Proposals to grant permission in principle for new homes on land designated in local and neighbourhood plans will apply only to site allocations in future plans and not retrospectively, a government impact assessment has confirmed.

Parliament: Housing and Planning Bill proposes new form of planning consent
Parliament: Housing and Planning Bill proposes new form of planning consent

The Housing and Planning Bill, published earlier this month, fleshes out the pledge in chancellor George Osborne’s July Fixing the Foundations productivity plan, to grant "automatic permission in principle" for brownfield sites registered by town halls as suitable for housing.

The bill proposes that, as well as granting permission in principle to sites on new brownfield registers, this status would be extended to sites allocated in local plans and neighbourhood plans.

Under the proposed mechanism, permission in principle would be followed by an application to agree the technical details of a scheme before the applicant can start work on site.

An impact assessment, published alongside the bill, says the government expects that it "will take time for full implementation to occur, as brownfield registers do not currently exist and the measure will apply to site allocations in future plans and not retrospectively".

The impact assessment adds: "However, the total number of developments annually that could benefit from permission in principle will grow as plans and registers come on stream and make site allocations.

"Based on the number of applications granted for major development in 2014/15, we estimate that the maximum number of sites that could benefit from the proposal could amount to around 7,000 each year."

An alternative route for obtaining permission in principle for small builders – via consent granted in response to an application – will be limited to minor housing schemes involving the creation of fewer than ten units.

The impact assessment says the government expects savings for applicants to be "significant". It adds that permission in principle "will remove the risk for applicants that a proposal is refused on grounds of the site being unsuitable". It says: "We expect that applicants will benefit from savings as a result of paying planning application costs on fewer unsuccessful applications."

Housing and Planning Bill 2015/16 Impact Assessment is available here.

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