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Will removing detail layout and scale in Outline Planning Applications speed up the application process?

Outline PlanningThe government has removed the requirement to detail layout and scale in outline planning applications. Is this Good news for the profession?

Previous rules demanded applications in which ‘layout’ was a reserved matter to state the approximate location of buildings, routes and open spaces. Where ‘scale’ was also a reserved matter, the application was required to state the upper and lower limit for the height, width and length of each building.

The Government has said that although it understands that it may be beneficial to provide details of layout and scale at the outline application stage, it does not “consider it necessary to nationally mandate this” in all cases where layout or scale could otherwise be reserved.

Planning consultant Amanda Olley, Director of Summit Planning Associates said: “In appropriate circumstances the volume of information required to be submitted with outline planning applications should be significantly reduced, resulting in significant cost savings for applicants and speeding up determination by local planning authorities. It should also help to redress the gradual decline in the use of outline applications.”

“The principle aim underpinning this change should be commended. Parties will be encouraged to focus on the acceptability of the development in principle rather than getting bogged down in the specific detail that is reserved for detailed consideration at a later stage. Information requirements should be more balanced now that requirements to provide building-specific details have been scaled back,”.

Amanda continued; “Of course, the flip side of this approach will be the potential for more disagreements between applicants and local planning authorities when the LPA still considers that a greater detail of information is required with an outline application. This will place even more emphasis on discussing proposals up front with the planning authority to try and agree the level of detail that will be included with an outline application. In those situations where agreement cannot be achieved, the route of recourse and appeal rights of the applicant have not changed. Developers and Planners alike should still expect many local planning authorities to continue asking for details of reserved matters at the outline stage in those circumstances where they will wish to satisfy themselves that they have sufficient information to determine whether the scheme is going to be acceptable in principle.”

Amanda Olley has been a Chartered Town Planner for 12 years and is an expert in her field. For more information, contact Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: