Planning in Principle, or a Pig in a Poke for the Public

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 is published today which will impact all communities involved in an emerging Local Plan, especially ones like Guildford.


There is one clause which is a real danger for the way that the Guildford plan is being pitched to councillors and the public. It is Section 150 "Permission in principle for development of land". This was going to be reserved only for recognised brownfield sites.  This now covers any site allocated by a planning process (Local or Neighbourhood plan etc) and adopted as part of a plan including green field.

The aim is to give up-front certainty that the fundamental principles are acceptable before developers need to get into costly, technical matters. It will also ensure that the principle of development (such as land use, location, and amount of development) only needs to be established once in the process. Technical issues are looked at later and include what the buildings will look like, layout etc (like the old reserved matters)

Permission in Principle must be followed by an application to agree the technical details of the scheme before the applicant can regard full planning permission to have been granted and start work on site.  However, the detail of "technical details" has not been clarified and defined in secondary legislation:

"The Government will be discussing the detailed process throughout the Bill to inform subsequent secondary legislation. This will include a consultation on the technical details in due course. The Government is open to any discussions with Members who have an interest in the detailed process"

So if a site is suggested in the local plan for 2100 houses, a school, factory, warehouses etc and that plan is adopted, the site will have Permission in Principle to be developed to that extent and uses.  There will be no going back. 

As it stands now, there is absolutely no indication what technical details the local authority planning committee can consider when the application is finally lodged and what they can do about deciding whether it can go ahead or not.  This level of detail is still to be discussed and decided sometime in the future.

Lead members on Guildford borough council and the planning department are saying the controversial sites being put forward in the local plan still have to go through normal planning application process. so don't worry; "by putting them in the local plan we are not granting them planning permission."   That view should not be accepted as correct as that subsequent process and decision making powers will be new and yet to be defined.  They will have Planning in Principle as define under Section 150  Housing and Planning Act 2016.

2017 Guildford Local Plan

Guildford’s NEW local Plan has just opened for consultation. PLEASE RESPOND before 24th July 2017.  GGG has published its responses to Local Plan Policies here 

GGG Latest

Catch up on the latest news, issues and events from Guildford Greenbelt Group

Useful links

Find your way to the web sites of planning commentators, local residents' groups and much more