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Power of Planning in Principle: A Comprehensive Guide

If you're considering a new development or expansion, you've likely come across the term "Planning in Principle." But what exactly is it, and what benefits does it bring to the table?

In this blog, we'll delve into the concept of Planning in Principle, exploring its key aspects and the advantages it offers for prospective developers and homeowners alike.

2 Dwellings on green belt land - planning permission through the Planning-in-Principle route

Understanding Planning in Principle

Planning in Principle, often abbreviated as PiP, is a planning application that provides an initial, high-level approval for a development proposal. While it doesn't delve into the finer details of design and layout, it establishes the fundamental feasibility and acceptability of the development on a specific site.

Key Benefits of Planning in Principle:

1. Early Project Viability Assessment:

  • Benefit: Planning in Principle allows you to assess the viability of your project at an early stage.

  • How: By obtaining a preliminary nod from the local planning authority, you can gauge the likelihood of your development being accepted, minimising the risk of investing time and resources into an ultimately unfeasible project.

2. Reduced Upfront Costs:

  • Benefit: Lower initial financial commitment.

  • How: Since Planning in Principle focuses on the suitability of a site (in planning policy terms) for development rather than the design of the proposals, the application process tends to be more straightforward and cost-effective. You are not required to provide the full range of surveys required for a full application. This allows you to test the waters without a significant upfront investment.

3. Streamlined Planning Process:

  • Benefit: Accelerated planning process for detailed approval.

  • How: Once Planning in Principle is granted, obtaining detailed planning permission for the specific design and layout becomes a smoother process. It builds a foundation, setting the stage for subsequent detailed (technical details) applications.

4. Increased Property Value:

  • Benefit: Enhanced property value and marketability.

  • How: Having Planning in Principle in place adds a layer of certainty and confidence for potential buyers or investors. It can make your property more attractive in the market, potentially increasing its value.

Outline Proposals

The Planning in Principle Process:

1. Submission of Proposal:

  • Submit a proposal outlining the fundamental aspects of your development, such as its purpose, scale, and location.

2. Preliminary Evaluation:

  • The local planning authority conducts an initial evaluation to determine if the proposal aligns with local policies and zoning regulations.

3. Decision and Granting of PiP:

  • The local planning authority makes a decision based on the provided information, granting or denying Planning in Principle.

4. Detailed Planning (Technical details) Application (if granted):

  • If Planning in Principle is granted, subsequent detailed planning applications for design and layout can be submitted with greater confidence.


Incorporating Planning in Principle into your development strategy can be a game-changer. It offers a strategic, cost-effective approach to assess project viability, and pave the way for a smoother detailed planning application process. As you embark on your development journey, consider the power of Planning in Principle to set the stage for success.

Permission in Principle is a relatively new route for obtaining planning permission that came into effect on 1st June 2018. Essentially, Permission in Principle is designed to increase the efficiency of the planning process. Current planning applications require a substantial amount of information upfront, even for outline planning permission.

Permission in Principle separates the absolute basics of ‘principle of development’ – land use, location and amount of development – from everything else ("technical details"). Via this route, you only need to establish the principle of development once. Then you can go on to apply for approval of the technical details, which will include the appearance of the building and its compliance with local and national policy requirements for space and amenity (outdoor spaces etc). Ultimately, the Permission in Principle route is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission for housing-led development.

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