There seems to be something of a myth going around that the zoning like ‘permission in principle’ system to be introduced in the Housing and PLanning Bill prevents securing of infrastructure and other requirements. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Permission in principle is nothing more than zoning land for a use and then at the same time gaining outline permission with all matters reserved for the same uses. Does this prevent infrastructure being secured? There are loose ends in the system but they can easily be tied up at report stage.
Here’s how you do it.
1. Zone for the Uses and Infrastructure More Precisely.
On a large site that might before have been zoned for housing units you instead state something like ‘Minimum 1,500 housing units. x sqm A1 space, two primary schools…’ etc. This will then prompt the drawing up of a masterplan to secure such. Such sites will typically be zero CIL rated.
2. Introduce a Certification System to Ensure that the Requirements of the Zoning are Met
A techncial details consent is forthcoming on matters such as layout in a masterplan. As well as approving the details the LPA is defacto certifying the details are compliant with the permission in principle, otherwise the consent would be ultra vires.
3. Apply the Power to Approve Subject to Conditions
Lets say a masterplan is for ‘phase 1’ of a development and that requires a junction improvement and a primary school – outside the control of the applicant but within the zoning scope. The H&P Bill section 104 allows PiP be given subject to conditions. This can include negative conditions that development cannot go ahead until infrastructure agreements are in place. Developers for their part can submit unilateral undertakings as part of technical details consents. The UK equivalent of the US ‘contractual zoning’.
4. For Small Sites and none specific Infrastructure apply CIL
None of this applies to small sites, but CIL still applies, as it will for large sites for infrastructure that is not site specific