Full, outline or reserved matters? The different types of planning application explained

Paul Walton, director of PWA Planning, explains the different types of planning application and how these fit into the overall planning process for new development.

There are so many different types of planning applications and consents that it can all sound rather confusing for anyone who isn’t a property professional.

Most people will be familiar with ‘householder planning consent’ which is used for proposals by homeowners to alter or enlarge a single home, such as through an extension, conservatory or loft conversion.

However, for any individual or business undertaking large-scale property conversions or new-build development, there are three main types of planning application. These are full planning application, outline planning application and reserved matters application.

Outline planning consent

When a new development is being proposed, planning rules allow for applicants to determine whether the principle of development is acceptable by making an outline planning application.

An outline application is so called because it doesn’t require the full technical details of the scheme and its associated infrastructure to be submitted.

It will require information on the scale and nature of the development, and in some instances for potential technical constraints to be addressed in principle, such as ecology and landscape impacts, flood risk and so on.

However, it can offer developers and landowners the assurance that development is acceptable in principle to the local planning authority without the costs associated with putting together a full planning application which would then involve all the detailed drawings and detailed reports, surveys that go with it.

Reserved matters

If outline planning permission is granted and the principle of development established, the full details of the proposed development can then be considered under a reserved matters application.

In a housing development for example, this is where the exact details about such things as the design of the homes, the materials used, the road layout, utilities connections would all be determined.

Full planning application

In cases where the principle of development has already been established, or is not likely to be contentious, it may be more cost-effective to submit a full application in the first instance, as this avoids the two phased approach of the outline plus reserved matters. This is particularly the case where the applicant intends to carry out the development themselves.

In instances where the landowner is the applicant and is selling the site for development, it’s often difficult to justify the expense of a full planning application. This is because this requires full details about site layout, access, scale of buildings, highways and drainage etc, much of which would then need to be changed depending upon the choices of the new owner.

Some other types of planning application

There are many other types of planning application and consent, including some that are highly specialist, such as those for large scale infrastructure, energy generation or mining projects.

However, some other common types of planning consent include:

Permission in principle (PIP): This was introduced fully in October 2018 as a new route for obtaining planning permission for small scale, housing-led developments. It is split into two stages and separates the consideration of the principle of planning permission from the technical detail of the permission. There are three different ways to achieve PIP – by inclusion of the site on the local planning authority’s brownfield register; by direct application to the local planning authority; or by inclusion in a development plan document or neighbourhood plan. The process is similar to the outline / reserved matters arrangement but simplifies things further, such that the planners cannot consider any technical details at the first stage and as such often no supporting technical information is required.

Listed building consent: This is for anyone wanting to demolish or undertake works to a listed building in a way that would “affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest”.

Conservation area consent: Any development within a conservation area, will generally need ‘planning permission for relevant demolition in a conservation area’ to demolish certain buildings or structures.

Advertisement consent: As the name suggests, this is used for proposals to display an advertisement or sign that requires planning permission. This can include a wide range of signs and adverts including flags and balloons.

Lawful development certificate: This is often used as an ‘insurance policy’ to gain reassurance that a proposed use of a building is lawful and does not require additional planning permissions. It can also allow permission to be ‘granted’ to works which have been undertaken without any consent but where the time for taking any enforcement action has passed.

Prior notification: Used for developments involving telecoms, demolition, agriculture or forestry where the local planning authority must be notified prior to any development taking place.

Consent under Tree Preservation Orders: This is for any proposed work to trees that are the subject of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Any work to trees in a conservation area will need a separate application known as a ‘Notification of proposed works to trees in conservation areas’.

Approval (discharge) of conditions: This type of application is necessary when a condition attached to a planning permission or a listed building consent needs to be satisfied before development can begin.

For more information on this issue, or any other planning and development matter, contact Paul Walton on 01772 369669.