PiP success for SME development of 5-7 residential flats in Bexley, London

Block plan of site for 7 flats in London

Are you an SME developer feeling a bit confused about using PiP (Permission in Principle)? Our recent success at Planning Committee for an application of 5-7 flats may help shed some light on its use and practical application.

To PiP or not to PiP…

Our planning team were instructed on a residential development project in Bexley.  As part of our initial site appraisal we identified several complexities and felt that strategically, it would be in our client’s interest to first ascertain whether the principle of development on site would be acceptable, before embarking on a planning application and commissioning the associated reports.

We therefore submitted an application to Bexley Council for 5 -7 residential units under the new PiP route.

Why use PiP?

Permission in Principle (PiP) is an application route which allows developers to establish early on whether the principle of development is acceptable without the need to submit any technical details upfront, for example detailed plans, surveys etc.

The application is essentially split into two stages:

Stage 1: seeks to confirm the principle of development, and

Stage 2: seeks to provide the technical details of the proposal for approval.

Whilst this first stage is not a guarantee of planning consent overall as you will still need to thrash out the finer points through the technical details application, on contentious sites this can be a means of establishing early on whether the principle of development on site is acceptable, before having to expend on detailed reports to support an application.

Constraints on using PiP

It is useful to note however, that this route is not available for major sites and is limited to smaller residential developments. Examples for when you cannot use the PiP route include:

  • major developments;
  • habitats development;
  • householder developments; or
  • Schedule 1 developments.

In terms of definitions, a major development is defined as those which comprise of:

  • (a) 10 or more dwellings;
  • (b) the provision of a building or buildings where the floor space to be created is 1,000 square metres or more; or
  • (c) development carried out on a site having an area of 1 hectare or more;

PiP can therefore be an alternative route for smaller developments of up to 9 units and, can provide SME developers with an initial reassurance that the principal of development is established before investing lots on additional surveys.

PiP at Planning Committee

Regarding our Bexley project, the scheme was called to planning committee and the project turned out to be a bit of a test case for the local council, as it was the first time they had determined a PiP application at planning committee.

Although we had a recommendation for approval from the case officer, understandably there were concerns in approving an application for up to 7 flats without seeing formal plans etc.  We presented an effective committee speech, which not only established the benefits of the scheme in planning terms, but we also sought to further explain the PiP process, its use, and how such applications should be determined.

There was much debate in the council chamber over PiP as a means of determining small residential development applications, but our evidence and arguments in favour of the scheme were strong and resulted in an approval. We are so pleased with the outcome for our client and, with the principle of development established on site, we can now look to formalising the finer aspects of the development through a technical details application.

About Us

If you have a site that you think may have development potential and would like guidance in this matter, then contact our planning team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.

IMAGE SOURCE: Urban & Rural Ltd 2018