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Planning Glossary of Terms

Disclaimer The glossary is neither a statement of law nor an interpretation of the law, and its status is only an introductory guide to planning issues and should not be used as a source for statutory definitions.

Adoption
The final confirmation of a plan as a statutory document by the local planning authority.

Advertisement Control
The process whereby a local planning authority decides whether an advertisement which is being displayed, or about to be displayed, is acceptable in terms of amenity and public safety.

Affordable Housing
Low cost housing for shared ownership or rent, often from a housing association, to meet the needs of local people who cannot afford accommodation through the open market.

Agricultural Dwelling
A dwelling which is subject to a condition or legal agreement that it shall only be occupied by someone who is employed or was last employed solely or mainly in agriculture, forestry or other appropriate rural employment.

Amenity
The pleasant or normally satisfactory aspects of a location which contribute to its overall character and the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

Amenity Space
The amenity space may be private or communal gardens, or roof terraces excluding parking areas.

Appeal
The process whereby an applicant can challenge an adverse decision on an application by means of written representations, a hearing or formal inquiry proceedings. Appeals can also be made against the failure of the planning authority to issue a decision, against conditions attached to a permission and against the issue of an enforcement notice.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Designated Area where the primary purpose is the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty including flora, fauna, geology and landscape.

Back-land
Land which is behind existing development with no, or very limited, road frontage.

Bio-diversity
A measure of the number and range of species and their relative abundance in a community.

Brown-field Site
Land which has been previously developed.

Called-in Application
A planning application referred to the Secretary of State for determination by virtue of the powers contained in the Planning Act.

Change of use
Each building has a legal use - for example residential or light industrial. Planning permission is usually necessary in order to change this 'use class'.

Commitments
All land with current planning permission or allocated in local plans.

Committee
A committee of the local council will deal with planning matters. Some planning applications are decided by the officers (professional council employees) without going to committee. Of those that go to committee, the officers will make a recommendation - to grant or refuse it - but the committee may make a different decision. At New Forest this is called the Planning Development Control Committee. Anyone may attend the Planning Development Control Committee meeting but you can only speak if you have previously arranged to do so.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
A document setting out the council's requirements for contributions to mitigate the impact of permissions granted

Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)
Notice issued by the government or a local authority to acquire land or buildings for public interest purposes.

Conditions
Stipulations attached to a planning permission to limit or direct the manner in which a development is carried out.

Conservation Area
An area given statutory protection under the Planning Acts, in order to preserve and enhance its character and townscape. In a conservation area you will need planning permission for works, which wouldn't otherwise need it.

Conservation Area Consent
Consent required from the local planning authority before demolishing an unlisted building in a conservation area. Where it is required, carrying out demolition work without this consent is a criminal offence.

Consultation
Procedures for assessing public opinion about a plan, or in the case of a planning application, the means of obtaining the views of affected neighbours or others with an interest in the proposal.

Contaminated Land
Land which has been polluted or harmed in some way, rendering it unfit for safe development and many practical uses without prior remediation.

Conversions
Alteration to a building to allow it to serve a different purpose to that which it was built for. For example , the sub-division of residential properties into bedsits, self-contained flats or maisonettes.

Curtilage
This is the area of land attached to a dwelling house and forming one enclosure with it. Usually what is thought of as the garden.

Decision
The decision on a planning application should normally be given within eight weeks or thirteen weeks for major applications. If the council fails to do this you can appeal on grounds of non-determination, unless an extension of time has been agreed.

Deemed Consent
This allows the display of certain "specified classes" of advertisement without having to make an application to the Local Planning Authority.

Density
In the case of residential development, a measurement of either the number of habitable rooms per hectare or the number of dwellings per hectare.

Departure
A proposed development which is not in accordance with a local plan but which due to exceptional circumstances the local planning authority proposes to accept.

Derelict Land
Land so damaged by industrial or other development that it is incapable of beneficial use without treatment.

Detailed/Full Application
The most common type of planning application is one that seeks full or detailed planning permission. This leaves no issue for future consideration, and should contain all the information needed for the Local Planning Authority to reach its decision.

Determination
Local planning authority process to decide whether a proposed development requires planning permission.

Development
'Development' is defined in the Planning Act as carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, or under land, or making any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. But it does not include changes to the inside of a building, or those which don't materially affect its external appearance (except in the case of a Listed Building).

Development Brief
Document providing detailed information to guide developers on the type of development , design and layout constraints and other requirements for a particular, usually substantial site.

Development Plan
This contains the policies and guidance which manage development in a Local Authority area.

Development Plan Documents (DPDs)
Under the new Planning System these documents form part of the Development Plan for the District, along with the Regional Spatial Strategy. These documents are subject to stringent public consultation and independent examination.

Discontinuance Notice
Notice served by a local planning authority requiring the discontinuance of the display of any advertisement, or the use of a site for the display of an advertisement, which has the benefit of deemed consent under the Control of Advertisements Regulations. Action to serve a discontinuance notice may only be taken if the planning authority is satisfied it is necessary to do so to remedy a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public.

Enforcement
Procedures by a local planning authority to ensure that the terms and conditions of a planning decision are carried out, or that development carried out without planning permission is brought under control.

Enforcement Notice
Notice requiring the discontinuance of an unauthorised use and/or the removal of buildings, including restoration of land, where development has been begun without permission or in breach of a condition.

English Heritage
A national body funded by the government to promote and give advice on building conservation matters.

Environmental Appraisal
The process of weighing all the policies in a development plan for their global, national and local implications.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
Proposers of certain scheduled developments are required to submit a planning application with an accompanying environmental statement, evaluating the likely environmental impacts of the development, together with an assessment of how the severity of the impacts could be reduced. Voluntary production of an Environmental Statement (ES) by the developer of a major project is often good practice.

Established Use
A use against which enforcement proceedings cannot be taken, normally because of the length of time the use has been in operation

Express Consent
This is needed to display an advertisement, which does not benefit from deemed consent under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements Regulations).

General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) - the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order grants rights (known as permitted development rights) to carry out certain limited forms of development without the need to make an application for planning permission. See also 'Permitted Development (PD)'.

Greenfield Land
Land which has not previously been developed. Greenfield land may also include land which was previously developed, but where the remains of any structure or activity have blended into the landscape in the process of time. All agricultural buildings and land are also classified as being Greenfield sites.

Government Guidance
National government produces guidance for Local Planning Authorities, which can be accessed via The National Planning Portal.

Habitable Room
All living rooms and bedrooms, but not kitchens, bathrooms, WCs or circulation space, are normally regarded as habitable for the purposes of density calculations.

Hearing (Informal)
An appeal hearing is less formal than an inquiry. An inspector meets with representatives from the council, the applicant and other interested parties and the issues discussed.

Infrastructure
Permanent resources serving society's needs, including roads, sewers, schools, hospitals, railways, communication networks etc.

Inspectorate
Planning Inspectors deal with all planning appeals in England and Wales. Each appeal is allocated to a case officer who will administer the appeal and whom you can contact.

Lawful Development Certificate (LDC)
A procedure by which existing or proposed uses and other forms of development can be certified as lawful for planning purposes. An application has to be made to the Local Planning Authority and there is a right of appeal against their decision.

Listed Buildings
A building or other structure of special architectural or historic interest included on a statutory list and assigned a grade (l, ll* or ll). If a building is 'listed' it means that it has special protection under the Planning Act and you will need permission for any works, which wouldn't otherwise need it.

Listed Building Consent
A permission required for the internal or external alteration or demolition of a listed building.

Local Development Documents (LDD)
Under the new Planning system these comprise Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents.

Local Development Framework (LDF)
The collective name for the suite of documents that sets out the Council's Planning Policies and requirements.

Local Development Scheme (LDS)
A three year timetable of all LDF documents to be produced. Reviewed at least annually, but also as local circumstances dictate. It is approved by the Secretary of State, who has the power to direct changes.

Local Planning Authority (LPA)
The local authority or council that is empowered by law to exercise planning functions. This is normally the local borough or district council, but in National Parks and some other areas there are different arrangements.

Material Consideration
A matter which should be taken into account in deciding on a planning application or on an appeal against a planning decision.

Neighbours
Neighbours are consulted by the council when a planning application is received. It is usually best to talk to your neighbours yourself about proposed works, at an earlier stage. You may be able to modify the plans so that they will be happy with them. If there are no objections from neighbours, you are more likely to get permission - although it's certainly not a guarantee.

Non-Conforming Use
A use which does not conform to the general provisions of the development plan for the area in which it is located.

Outline Application
A general application for planning permission to establish that the development is acceptable in principle, subject to subsequent approval of detailed matters.

Overdevelopment
A quantity of building or intensity of use that is excessive in terms of its layout on the site, demand on the infrastructure and local services and/or its impact on local amenity and character.

Overlooking
The Local Plan often lays down detailed criteria. Windows in new buildings must not be positioned so that people can look directly into rooms in other residential buildings or over garden area to the extent that it would be detrimental to the amenities of that property.

Permitted Development (PD)
Minor developments and changes between use classes that are granted planning permission under the General Permitted Development Order and for which a planning application is not required.

Planning Casework Service
An online service designed and managed by the Planning Inspectorate and accessed through the Planning Portal. The service lets users in England submit and track different kinds of appeals electronically and search and comment on appeals online. The service is not currently available in Wales.

Planning Considerations
Planning decisions and appeals are decided according to planning law, the local plan, and government planning guidance.

Planning Inspector
Planning Inspectors are independently appointed to determine appeals that are lodged against refusal of planning permission. They consider all the papers in advance. They "chair" the inquiry or hearing and carry out a site visit. They then write a report, giving a decision and explaining the reasons for it.

Planning Permission
Planning permission from the local planning authority is required for most forms of development. Some changes or additions to property are classified as "permitted development" and don't normally need planning permission. Some changes of use are also classed as development and require permission. If you build something without getting permission you might have to remove it. If you need permission you will need to apply for it to the local council. You will need to fill in an application form, provide drawings and a site plan and pay a fee.

Planning Obligations and Agreements
Legal agreements between a planning authority and a developer, or offered unilaterally by a developer, ensuring that certain extra works related to a development are undertaken, usually under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Plans
The planning application must be accompanied with scaled drawings and probably photographs showing the existing and proposed situations. The proposals must be described in sufficient detail for the planners to understand what it will look like and how it will affect the neighbours. You will also usually be required to submit a design and access statement with your application.

Private Open Space
Space which is privately owned and not generally open to the public, although some are subject to agreements that afford limited public access.

Proposals Map
An obligatory component of a Local Plan (or Local Development Framework) showing the location of proposals and designations in the plan on an Ordnance Survey base map.

Public Inquiry
Planning appeals, which are complicated or controversial or have caused a lot of local interest are examined by public inquiry. It is a formal procedure, allowing for witness statements and cross-examinations. Interested members of the public may speak if they apply to do so on the first day when the timetable is agreed. Barristers often, but not necessarily , represent each side, and inquiries may last from one day up to many months depending on the case. After the inquiry the inspector produces a report and decision.

Public Open Space
Space where public access is generally established, and which fulfils an active or passive recreational roll. Includes nature reserves, cemeteries, reservoirs and parks. In order to mitigate against the harm residential development can cause to the National Park and the Coastal Areas some of this may be provided in the form of a Site of Alternative National Green Space.

Public Right of Way
A way where the public has a right to walk, and in some cases ride horses, bicycles, motorcycles or drive motor vehicles, which will be designated either as a footpath, a bridleway, a road used as a public path or a byway.

Refusal
If planning permission is refused you can appeal to higher authority. You appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. If the inspector upholds the refusal, that decision is final. It can only be challenged on legal grounds in the High Court. You can submit another application immediately but the new plans must be substantially different.

Section 106 Agreement
A binding agreement between a council and a developer associated with a grant of planning permission and regarding matters linked to the proposed development.

Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)
Areas designated by local authorities in England for sites of substantial local nature conservation value.

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
An area identified by Natural England or Countryside Council for Wales for protection by reason of the rarity of its nature conservation or wildlife features.

Site visit (Appeal)
The appeal inspector may make an unaccompanied site visit if the site can be seen from public land. If there is an accompanied visit, representatives from both sides must be present, and the inspector will not talk informally to any parties about the case. This is not an opportunity to discuss issues or try to influence the inspector, but you may be asked questions about the plans.

Special Protection Area (SPA)
Areas designated under European Community Directive 79/409 on Conservation of Wild Birds, requiring the UK government to take special measures to conserve the habitat of rare or vulnerable birds (listed under the directive) and all regularly occurring migratory birds. The government is required to avoid pollution or disturbance to SPA's.

Statutory
Required by law (statute), usually through an Act of Parliament.

Statutory Undertakers/Statutory Utilities
Providers of essential services such as gas, electricity, water or telecommunications.

Stop Notice
A notice served in respect of land subject to enforcement proceedings prohibiting the carrying out or continuing of specified operations which are alleged to constitute a breach of planning control and designed to stop work continuing pending the outcome of an appeal.

Streetscene
The visual appearance and character of an area created by the form of buildings and open spaces. It relates not just to the massing and scale of building but also to floorspace and street furniture details.

Sui Generis
Uses of land or buildings which do not fall into any of the use classes identified by the Use Class Order, for example theatres, laundrettes, car showrooms and filling stations.

Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG)
Additional advice service issued by a local planning authority expanding upon its statutory policies to be replaced with Supplementary Planning Documents.

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)
Under the new Planning System all Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents will need to be the subject of a Sustainability Appraisal. The appraisal will ensure that the plan conforms to the concepts of Sustainable Development, and also to ensure it meets the requirements of the European Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive.

Sustainable Development
Environmentally responsible development, commonly defined as "development which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".

Townscape
The appearance and character of buildings and all other features of an urban area taken together as a whole.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
The Council has a duty under the planning acts to consider making TPO's in the interest of local amenity. Orders may specify and protect individual specimens, groups of trees, or areas of woodland. A specific consent from the Council is required to fell or lop such trees. Trees growing in Conservation Areas have similar protection.

Urban Regeneration
The re-use or redevelopment of decaying or run-down parts of older urban areas to bring them new life and economic vitality.

Use Classes Order
The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order puts uses of land and buildings into various categories, planning permission not being required for changes of use within the same use class unless specified by condition on a previous application. In practice changes between use classes are likely to require planning permission.

Use classes
Legal uses of property are defined as use classes in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order. A change of use within the same use class does not need planning permission, but a change to a different use class usually does.

Written Representations
The written procedure for deciding appeals is the fastest and simplest. Typically, first you and then the local Planning Authority send statements of case to the Inspectorate. The LPA, has a chance to comment on your case, and you have a final chance to comment on the comments. There is then a site visit and a decision is usually sent to you within about five weeks.

Written Statement
Documentary statement of policy, forming part of a development plan submitted by a local planning authority and requiring formal approval.

Updated: 24 Sep 2015
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