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One of the bugbears of UK planning law has always been that a lot of work has to be done before a planning application can be considered because an outline planning application must be made, except for certain proposed brownfield developments. The process can also involve considerable expense.
However, that is set to change. From 1 June 2018, it will be possible to submit an 'in principle' planning application for small developments (ten or fewer dwellings on a site of one hectare or less and involving 1,000 square metres or less of floor space) which consist mainly of housing, with only a limited amount of detail (such as the maximum and minimum number of housing units) being required to be supplied.
On clearing that hurdle, an application for technical details consent must be made. This must be granted before the development can proceed.
It is not clear what the requirement that the application has to be mainly for housing means and no doubt the courts will, over time, provide guidance. The planning authority will be required to give a decision within five weeks, which should also help speed up the process.
There are, however, certain limitations on when the new procedure may be used.