The Self Build and Custom Housebuilding Act, (or the Right to Build Act), was introduced in April 2016, making it easier for anyone interested in building their own home to locate suitable land. Local councils are now obligated to keep the Right To Build register (a record of those looking to build) and offer them suitable, serviced plots. At the end of July 2017, the government published guidance on Permission in Principle (PiP) for Brownfield Sites… but what does it all mean?
What is the Permission in Principle consent route?
PiP is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission designed to speed up the self build process and encourage developers’ faith in the potential to develop residential sites. This is done by separating matters of principle (like location, the use of land and the size of the development), from the more technical detailed development proposals.
PiP works alongside existing routes for obtaining planning permission, rather than replacing them. Instead of self builders having to provide reams and reams of detailed information about their plans upfront (often spending a substantial amount of money in the process) without any certainty that their development will go ahead, PiP provides that certainty earlier.
When and how is PiP granted?
PiP will be granted when the local authorities identify it on brownfield registers. The Brownfield Register is kept by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and is a record of all brownfield sites suitable for housing development, no matter their planning status. LPAs have a set of requirements and procedures to follow before declaring that a site should have PiP granted.
What is a brownfield site?
As you might expect, defining a brownfield site, or ‘Brownfield Land' is complicated, but according to the National Planning Policy Framework, it is “land which is or was occupied by a permanent structure”... so long as the land wasn’t used in farming, mining or waste disposal, and isn’t in a built up area or on a historical site. If LPAs have assessed a brownfield site as appropriate for residential development, it gets listed on Part 1 of their brownfield land register.
Those sites gets added to Part 2 of the register, a subset of Part 1, if the LPA decides it’s suitable for a grant of Permission in Principle.
What happens when you want to build on a brownfield site with PiP?
When PiP has been granted, self builders have 5 years to obtain Technical Details Consent (TDC). There are no government-issued details or examples of the information applicants will have to provide at the TDC stage, but it deals with the more technical aspects of the build such as its design, infrastructure, and impact on the area. A TDC application is an application for planning permission.
Self Build Mortgages and Permission in Principle
The Right To Build Act, and these recent amends, makes locating suitable plots for building quicker and easier for self-builders by involving local authorities in offering land. Depending on the lender, there will be different terms and conditions for self build mortgages, including whether or not permission in principle or detailed planning permission is required. Consider the stages at which funds are released, and whether the lender will release funds for the purchase of the land when shopping around for your self build mortgage.
Self-builders who are in any doubt about which self build mortgage is best for them, should seek advice from a specialist mortgage broker.