Outline applications

Outline applications need to include enough information to show that the proposed use and the amount of development proposed can be satisfactorily accommodated on the site.

Outline applications are not accepted for changes of use or developments in a conservation area.

You will need to submit:

  • a completed application form
  • design and access statement
  • an application fee
  • a location plan
  • information about the proposed use or uses, and the amount of development proposed for each use
  • where access is a reserved matter, information to show the areas where access points are proposed
  • an environmental impact assessment
  • sufficient plans, drawings and any other information to describe any matters that are not reserved for approval
  • any other information required by the adopted local list of application requirements. The following items are frequently required at the outline stage:
    • affordable housing statement
    • flood risk sequential and exception test
    • flood warning evacuation plan (emergency plan)
    • coal mining reports

If you show details at the outline stage about a matter which is reserved, then you must clearly confirm this on your plans and drawings by stating ‘for illustrative purposes only’.

Asking for more information after registration

When we think an application should not be considered separately from all or any of the reserved matters, we will ask you to send us this information. The application will not be approved until the requested information is received. For this reason, and to avoid delays, we recommend that applicants use our pre-application advice service.

We normally ask for details about the means of access for all major housing schemes.

Reserved matters

Reserved matters can include:

  • Access. The accessibility to and within a site for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians, in terms of the positioning, treatment and circulation of routes and how these fit into the surrounding access network
  • Appearance. The aspects of a building, or place, within the development that decide the visual impression made. This includes the external form of a development, its architecture, materials, decoration, lighting, colour and texture.
  • Landscaping. The treatment of land (other than buildings) for the purpose of enhancing or protecting the amenities of a site. This includes:
    • screening by fences, walls or other means
    • the planting of trees, hedges, shrubs or grass
    • the formation of banks, terraces or other earthworks
    • the laying out or provision of gardens, courts, squares, water features, sculpture or public art
    • the provision of other amenity features;
  • Layout. The way buildings, routes and open spaces within a development are situated and orientated about each other and to buildings and spaces outside the development
  • Scale. The height, width and length of each building proposed to its surroundings.

Conditions attached to outline approvals

Some conditions attached to an outline approval cannot be discharged until the reserved matters have been approved. For example, details relating to drainage can’t be approved before matters relating to the layout and scale of the development have been approved.

If an application is submitted to discharge planning conditions, that are attached to an outline planning consent, which can’t be considered before the reserved matters are approved, the request will be refused, and fee will not be refunded.

Requests to discharge planning conditions, that are attached to an outline consent, should not be made as part as the reserved matters application. There are separate rules, forms, fees and procedures for requests to discharge planning conditions. If a reserved matters application is submitted which includes details seeking to discharge a condition, then both applications will normally be delayed until the required fees are paid and the documents are organised into two separate applications.

Planning performance agreements (PPAs)

We encourage the use of PPAs to agree timescales, actions and resources for applications. PPAs can be particularly useful in setting out an efficient and transparent process for determining large scale or complex planning applications. Visit our planning performance agreements page to learn more.