PiP in Practice

28th January, 2021

Following on from our previous blog[1], about Permission in Principle (PiP) as a fast-track route for securing planning permission for small scale development (up to 9 dwellings), we provide a brief update on how these new style applications have been faring in practice.

Although our experience has been mixed, we have had some positive results with Pip notably the first ever PiP approval in West Berkshire.

On the 28th October 2020 Planning Resource reported that between January and June 2020, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC) had refused all the PiP applications it had received. Just days later, three appeal decisions were issued that granted PiP for residential development in the Borough[2].

Each appeal involved a site located outside of the Settlement Policy Boundary, within the countryside, where new housing is generally resisted. However, as the Council could not demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply, the Inspector afforded very limited weight to its housing policies, while finding that they were not entirely consistent with the NPPF.

Despite one site being within the AONB[3] and all three sites being near heritage assets, the Inspector considered that there were no clear reasons for dismissing the appeals.

He concluded that the benefits arising from the new dwellings outweighed any adverse impacts.

In all three cases, the Inspector outlined that “I have no cogent evidence before me of harm arising from the appeal scheme in respect of matters including character and appearance, biodiversity, flooding, highway safety, traffic generation and neighbour living conditions. As this application relates to PIP, I am satisfied that these other matters should be dealt with through the TDC process.

Furthermore, he explained that “The Guidance [NPPG] also confirms that, following a grant of a PIP, the site must receive a grant of Technical Details Consent (TDC) before development can proceed, and that other statutory requirements may apply at this stage, such as those relating to protected species...

These decisions have provided clear guidance regarding detaching the ‘in principle’ matters when determining a PiP application from more detailed considerations at the later TDC stage.

They also clarify the timescales within which technical details must be approved and development implemented.  National guidance makes it clear that specific justification is needed to vary the default 3 year period.  In acknowledging the Council’s suggestion of a one-year permission, having regard to the extent of the housing land supply shortfall[4], alongside the Council’s expectation that the shortfall would be temporary, the Inspector in each of these cases concluded that he had not been provided with cogent evidence to determine that the housing shortfall will be short term and rejected the Council’s approach.

These decisions will undoubtedly improve the prospects for PiP applications  in the future, in Basingstoke and beyond, albeit the specific context of each proposal remains highly relevant.

And PiP is here to stay; in August 2020, Central Government consulted on proposals to extend the PiP regime[5], including extending PiP to allow for schemes of up to 150 dwellings.

If you would like to know more about these issues or you want to discuss how these changes might affect a specific project, please contact us on: 01794 368 698 or info@pro-vision.co.uk

[1] https://pro-vision.co.uk/news/james-iles-planning-director-looks-permission-principle-new-route-small-scale-housing-schemes
[2] The appeals involved sites in Burghclere (1 dwelling – ref. 20/00191/PIP), Woolton Hill (4 dwellings – ref. 19/02660/PIP) and Little London (4 dwellings – ref. 19/02278/PIP)
[3] This relates to the appeal at Woolton Hill
[4] The Council could only demonstrate 4.86 years of housing land supply
[5] As set out in the Changes to the current planning system consultation