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Outline Planning Permission

Outline Planning Permission

Outline planning permission is a preliminary step before making a full planning application to determine if the extent and character of a proposed development would be acceptable to the local planning authority. It requires fewer details compared to a full planning application and helps individuals or companies assess their chances of obtaining approval before incurring high costs. Outline planning permission often leaves some details, called reserved matters, to be agreed at a later stage.

The processing time for a simple application is usually 8 weeks and for a larger or complex development, it takes 13 weeks. If the application requires an Environmental Impact Assessment, it may take up to 16 weeks. These timescales may vary based on the complexity of the application and the local planning authority’s resources.

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What is included in Outline Planning Permission?

The following information is typically required for outline planning permission:

  • Use of the development, including the amount and any distinct zones
  • Existing and proposed layout drawings, including access points
  • Indicative dimensions of proposed buildings, such as height, width, length, etc.
  • A design and access statement.

In some cases, the following information may also be included:

  • Description of the proposed development or works
  • Number of dwellings/units and size of non-residential development
  • Current use of the site or building
  • Vehicle and pedestrian routes, rights of way, access points, etc.
  • Parking areas/spaces
  • Refuse areas and waste storage/collection
  • Materials and character of the proposed development
  • Below-ground surface water and foul drainage
  • Flood risk assessment
  • Biodiversity, ecology, geological issues, and conservation
  • Boundary treatments
  • Landscaping, including trees, hedges, planting, etc.
  • Economic impact on local employment, etc.
  • Opening and operational hours.

Reserved matters that need to be clarified later may include the layout of buildings, building dimensions, appearance, material choice, access, and egress, and landscape design.

Outcome of Outline Planning Permission

Outline planning permission can be refused and if that happens, the applicant may appeal the decision to a planning inspector acting on behalf of the Secretary of State. If outline planning permission is granted, reserved matters applications must be made and approved within three years of the consent before work can commence. Planning conditions and obligations (Section 106 Agreement) may also apply to outline planning permission to address adverse impacts of the development.

Outline planning permission usually lasts for 5 years and the period for approved reserved matters is 3 years. The benefits of obtaining outline planning permission include clarity on the chances of approval, lower upfront costs, and potential increase in land value.