Planning in principle is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission for housing development compared to the traditional outline and full application processes. The key difference is that it separates the consideration of matters of principle for proposed development away from the technical detail of the development.

The process has the advantage of being far simpler even than outline planning applications and therefore a cheaper planning fee. However, this type of application is only available for smaller residential sites that do not have habitat issues or are likely to be covered by environmental impact legislation. The local authorities also use the process to grant permissions for sites on their Brownfield register.

The initial advantage of submitting an application with less information can also be a disadvantage because the traditional application route that requires more evidence to be submitted which helps to create a stronger case for approval.

The application process has two stages; the first being the ‘planning in principle’ and establishes whether housing is suitable and the second stage is the ‘technical details consent stage’ where the detailed development proposals are assessed. Local Authorities cannot list the information they require for planning in principle applications in the same way they do for traditional planning applications which is advantageous to developers in terms of costs and speed of putting together an application.

Planning in principle is particularly useful for well located small sites in areas where the Local Authority does not have a five year housing supply.

For advice about planning in principle applications and an assessment of a site, please call Richard Edge or Alex Orttewell on 01935 852170 or email