Outline Planning Permission

If you’re planning a construction, renovation or extension project, or considering a change of use for a property you’re buying, it may be worth applying for outline planning permission on your proposed development before you incur any significant costs.

But what exactly is outline planning permission? What does the application process involve, and how will outline permission benefit the development proposed?

Read on to learn more about the purpose of outline planning permission, along with further details of planning regulations and planning conditions.

What is Outline Planning Permission?

Outline planning permission is a type of initial planning consent that may be granted at an early stage in the development process by the local authority to indicate that full planning permission is likely to be granted.

This indicates that the development proposal in question is comparatively low-risk, and that there are no significant planning objections at this stage in the project.

Why Make an Outline Planning Application?

It’s always good practice to undertake as much research and run as many checks as possible before committing to a proposed development.

In the early stages of a project, you will incur fairly substantial costs for every consultation undertaken, and spend significant time drawing up detailed plans.

Without an indication that full planning permission is likely to be granted, these activities constitute a significant financial risk.

In applying for outline planning permission, you will find it easier to determine the likelihood of your project being granted full planning permission.

A successful application offers a good amount of assurance that your local planning authority will approve your development proposal further down the line.

Outline Planning Permission

Others obtain outline planning permission with the intention of sale or auction at an enhanced value.

How is an outline approval decision made?

In deciding whether or not to grant outline approval, regulations and precedents of both your local planning authority and those of the wider UK planning system will be taken into account.

If the results of these deliberations indicate that your proposed building project is likely to receive full planning permission once an application is made, you will probably be granted outline planning permission.

What Kinds of Proposed Developments will Benefit from Outline Permission from a Local Authority?

Your decision to apply for outline planning consent may depend on your project’s development scale, costs and risk factors, along with precedents upheld by your local authority when it comes to planning approval.

Specific Instances Where Outline Permission is Likely to be Required

It is best to apply to your local planning authority for outline permission if your proposed building project will:

  • Constitute a major development
  • Affect a world heritage site, a site of historic importance or a conservation area
  • Require listed building consent
  • Involve significant site landscaping
  • Have a major impact on the physical features of the surrounding area

Once a an outline planning application has been accepted and approved, you will need to provide further details of the proposed development by making a reserved matters application – on which we will provide further guidance at a later stage in this article.

Outline Planning Permission Cost

According to the Planning Portal, the cost to make an outline application will vary depending on the physical scale of a project.

For a Site Measuring 2.5 hectares or less

The 2018 “Guide to the Fees of Planning Applications in England“, accessible via the Planning Portal, states that an outline application for a site of “not more than 2.5 hectares” will cost the applicant £462 for “each 0.1 hectare (or part thereof)”.

For a Site Measuring more than 2.5 hectares

If your site comes to more than 2.5 hectares, there is a charge of £11,432, plus £138 “for each additional each 0.1 hectare (or part thereof)” that exceeds 2.5 hectares.

Maximum charge

Outline planning applications have a maximum charge of £150,000.

For further information and quotes, do not hesitate to consult your local planning authority.

Are Outline Planning Applications Worth the Expense?

Due to the fees involved, outline planning applications are likely to be more beneficial where the proposed development consists of “higher value” components or more costly processes, or involves greater risk.

For a project with a smaller budget that has fewer risk-factors, an outline planning application may incur more expense than it is worth.

However, larger, costlier projects tend to require more extensive risk mitigation approaches – which are likely to constitute a smaller percentage of the development’s overall expenditure – making an outline planning application more worthwhile in these instances.

How Long Does Outline Planning Permission Last?

After making an outline planning application, it may be granted subject to receipt of a reserved matters application. You have three years to make this application before that permission lapses.

What is a Reserved Matters Application?

The term “reserved matters” refers to detailed plans for certain aspects of your proposed development that were not provided in your outline planning application. These plans are to be provided at a later stage following outline consent.

What Should be Included in a Reserved Matters Application?

You will probably need to include the following supporting information as part of your reserved matters application:

  • A clear layout of the development – including open spaces and connecting routes, as well as drainage details
  • Details of the project’s physical scale
  • A guide to each structure’s external built form – basically, the visual impression that your finished development will give
  • Plans for site landscaping
  • An access statement explaining how the development will link to the surrounding access network, and any issues that may change or affect access points
  • Information about other amenity features and other material considerations (these may vary on a project by project basis)
  • Exit strategy (sales of the units, holding for rental or a combination of both for example)

Further required statements accompanying applications of this kind may – but will not necessarily – include an Environmental Impact Assessment.

What is an Environmental Impact Statement?

This document is an environmental statement that lays out the potential ecological effects that a development may have.

Do I Need to Provide Ownership Certificates for Original Outline Approval or at the Reserved Matters Stage?

No – your local planning authority will only need to see documentation of this kind when you make a full planning application.

An ownership certificate provides information about the people who own the site on which the development is to take place – including confirmation that all the other owners have been duly informed of the project.

Outline Planning Permission Checklist

Wondering what information you need to include when applying to your local planning authority for outline planning permission? Here is a handy checklist to help you ensure everything is in place before you apply for outline planning consent.

Step 1: Complete all relevant planning application forms

Make sure you sign and date these documents in all the right places.

Step 2: Make sure you have the relevant certificate

This may include the certificate for agricultural land. Check that you had filled out the correct sections, as well as signing and dating the certificate.

Step 3: Include a Site Plan

It’s important to note that planning applications of this kind require a 1:500 scale site plan and a location plan of either 1:1250 or 1:2500 scale.

The plan must include surrounding properties and roads, and your site must be outlined in red – while any neighbouring land that you also own or manage should have a blue outline.

Step 4: Make sure you have calculated the fee correctly

The fee must be enclosed with the planning application.

STEP 5: Include all drawings required by your local planning authority

These are likely to include plans for:

  • The overall layout of the site
  • The internal spaces of the building
  • Existing and proposed elevations of the property
  • A street scene (this is only required if the property fronts onto a road)

STEP 6: Provide details of any changes in ground level

This should be included as a 1:100 scale drawing, which also indicates adjacent land.

STEP 7: Include a TRee survey and related drawings

Every tree that is on – or adjacent to – your development site should be indicated on a drawing. You will also need to include a Method Statement and Impact Study.

STEP 8: Make sure you have indicated any new boundary treatments

How will your development be divided – both internally and with respect to surrounding properties?

STEP 9: Provide details of all materials and where they are to be used

The planning inspectorate will require information about the materials that will be utilised within your development.

STEP 10: Include a bat survey and a bird survey if required

This is usually only needed if a structure is to be demolished.

STEP 11: Provide a Design and access statement

This is a report that explains the ways in which your proposed development is suitable for its site and the surrounding area. For further professional advice on design and access statements, take a look at the guide available on the Planning Portal.

STEP 12: Give information and dimensions relating to proposed and existing parking provisions

Your local authority will require information about on site car parking well before you apply for full planning permission.

STEP 13: Include details of refuse storage and treatment of recyclables – both proposed and existing

You’ll need to provide information on the ways in which you will dispose of any waste on site, and details of your approach to recycling.

STEP 14: Make sure you are aware of any additional requirements

Depending on the nature, scale an complexity of your development, you may need to include further information and documentation in your outline planning application.

Check with your local authority to determine whether or not any additional information is required in your particular case.

What if Outline Consent is Declined?

If consent is refused, you will likely need to make adjustments to your plans according to any feedback you have received.

Should you be unable to reach an agreement, you may be able to appeal to your local authority. However, the best course of action is always to try and make sufficient changes until you receive approval.

What Happens After Outline Permission is Granted?

Once you have received outline planning permission, you will be able to make a full planning application safe in the knowledge that you have successfully undertaken considerable due diligence.

For further pre application advice and additional details of reserved matters, take a look at the guidance on Planning Portal discussing outline planning permission.

April 27, 2023

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