A matter of principle

An inspector has decided that an Essex council was mistaken in its view that permission in principle cannot be granted for development on land which is not on a brownfield land register (DCS Number 400-029-717). 

The proposal was for permission in principle for a minimum of three to a maximum of four dwellings on a former sewage works site. The inspector explained that the government’s Planning Practice Guidance advises that the permission in principle route is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission for housing-led development. It has two stages: the first stage (or permission in principle stage) establishes whether a site is suitable in-principle and the second (technical details consent) stage is when the detailed development proposals are assessed. The appeal related to the first of these two stages.  

The council’s decision gave only one reason for refusal, that the site did not meet the criteria to grant permission in principle, stating that as it was considered to be previously developed land and was not in Part 2 of its Brownfield Land Register it did not meet the criteria set out in paragraph 004 of the PPG on permission in principle. 

Referring to the Town and Country Planning (Permission in Principle) (Amendment) Order 2017 and the PPG, the inspector’s interpretation was that it shows that development on land not defined as previously developed can be granted permission in principle through the route of an application, rather than through the other route of being entered on a brownfield land register. Importantly, she continued, it does not show that previously developed land cannot be granted permission in principle under the route of an application. 

The inspector therefore agreed with the appellant that the council’s interpretation of the PPG was erroneous and that the application was valid.  

There is a section on application types at 5.13 of DCP Online and the Statutory Instruments relating to permission in principle can be found in the Appendix.