ECA planners have been very interested to read the latest guidance on Brownfield Land Registers (BLR) and Permission in Principle (PiP) and hear about the pilot Councils who have published their Brownfield Land Register. Particularly as Wigan is one of the Councils and their BLR includes a site we have been working on at ECA.
The latest guidance suggests:
The current planning application process asks developers to provide substantial amounts of information up-front, even as part of an application for outline planning permission. This means that developers will often have to expend significant time and cost prior to achieving certainty that any development will be able to go ahead in principle. Permission in principle offers an alternative route for providing early certainty on the in-principle matters – use, location and amount of development.
This all sounds great. A few queries arise straight away. Importantly, as Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) will be tasked with determining PiP, will a viability exercise be undertaken or how will they know what is viable? Whilst I can see the benefits to developers straight away of the PiP idea, the finer details will be determined in the follow up ‘Technical Details Consent’ – essentially a full planning application, subject to the same investment of time and cost. In the event that the Technical Details Consent proposes more housing than approved under PiP, will it automatically be refused?
Other details arising out of the guidance indicate that:
- This is a ‘housing led’ initiative, although mixed uses are considered providing these are ancillary to the predominant residential use
- The BLR regulations require LPAs to have compiled their list of brownfield sites by December 2017 – this will be a great resource for developers to access
- The BLR will also be the ‘vehicle’ for granting Permission in Principle. Sites with PiP will be listed in part 2 of the BLR. Local authorities will need to meet the requirements in relation to consultation with statutory bodies, environmental impact assessments, habitats protection and protections for other sensitive areas.
- Permission in principle will establish the fundamental principles of development (use, location, amount of development) for the brownfield site giving developers/applicants more certainty, crucially at NO COST. A developer cannot proceed with development until they have obtained ‘technical details consent’.