Planning Glossary

Below is a range of planning terminology you may come across when buying land or looking to develop land you already own.


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 and is being displayed in accordance with the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations.

Affordable Housing - low cost housing for sale or rent, often from a housing association, to meet the needs of local people who cannot afford accommodation through the open or low cost market, or subsidised housing.

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 or visitors.

Ancillary Use - a subsidiary use connected to the main use of a building or piece of land.

Appeal - the process whereby an applicant can challenge an adverse decision on an application by means of written representations, an informal 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 - area designated by the Countryside Agency or the Countryside Council for Wales where the primary purpose is the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty including flora, fauna, geology and landscape.

Area of Special Control of Advertisements - an area which is specifically defined by the local planning authority because they consider its scenic, historical, architectural or cultural features are so significant that a stricter degree of advertisement control is justified in order to conserve visual amenity within that area. Such areas can only be designated with the approval of the Secretary of State.

Article 4 Direction - an order made by the Secretary of State, the National Assembly for Wales or the local planning authority, requiring a planning application to be made where normally permitted development rights would apply.

Article 14 Direction - issued by the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to restrict the grant of planning permission by a local planning authority, either indefinitely or for a specified period, normally to give the Department time to decide whether to call in the application.

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

BPEO (Best Possible Environmental Option) - The option that provides the most benefits or the least damage for the environment, as a whole, at acceptable cost, in the long term as well as the short term. (defined in the 12th report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution)

Betterment - the amount by which the value of land is increased by development or by the grant of planning permission, or because of the development of neighbouring land.

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

Bio-diversity Action Plan - the means by which the UK government commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity at Rio de Janeiro (1992) is to be met.

Brown-field Site - land which has been previously developed, excluding mineral workings or other temporary uses.

Building Preservation Order - a notice under Section 3 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to protect buildings of special architectural or historic interest from demolition or alterations that would affect their interest.

Cadw - government agency supporting the preservation, conservation, enhancement, interpretation and appreciation of historic buildings and monuments in Wales.

Called-in Application - a planning application referred to the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales for determination by virtue of the powers contained in section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Change of Use - more correctly referred to as a 'material change of use'. A change in the use of land or buildings that is of significance for planning purposes, often requiring planning permission.

Circular - guidance, including policy, issued by a government department usually, but not always, in support of legislation.

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

Community Forests - A joint initiative between the Countryside Agency and the Forestry Commission to promote the creation, regeneration of well-wooded landscapes around major towns and cities.

Comparison Goods - 'non perishable' goods for retail sale which are often stocked in a wide range of sizes, styles, colours and qualities, including furniture, carpets, televisions etc.

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.

Contaminated Land - land which has been polluted or harmed in some way rendering it unfit for safe development and most practical uses.

Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) - an area in which all kerbside space is controlled by either waiting or loading restrictions or by designated parking spaces.

Conservation Area - an area given statutory protection under the Planning Acts, in order to preserve and enhance its character and townscape.

Conservation Area Consent - consent required from the local planning authority before demolishing an unlisted building in a conservation area.

Consultation - procedures for assessing public opinion about a plan or major development proposal, 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.

Convenience Shop - supermarket, grocers, newsagents, confectioners, tobacconists, off-licences or other shops selling goods which tend to be purchased regularly.

Conversions - the sub-division of residential properties into bedsits, self-contained flats or maisonettes.

Countryside Agency - organisation responsible for advising government and taking action on issues affecting the social, economic and environmental well-being of the English countryside.

Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) - government agency promoting the interests and well-being of rural Wales.

Deemed Consent - this allows the display of certain "specified classes" of advertisement without first having to make an application to the local planning authority. Under the Control of Advertisements Regulations there are 14 Classes, all of which are subject to strict conditions and limitations.

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 - after due publicity and possible referral to the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales.

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. It should contain all the information needed for the LPA to reach its decision, but the LPA may seek further information.

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

Development - the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or land.

Development Area - a priority area for environmental, social or economic regeneration or a combination of these.

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 Control - the process whereby a local planning authority decides whether a planning application meets the requirements of planning policy, particularly as set out in development plans.

Development Plan - document (a structure or local plan) that sets out in writing and/or in maps and diagrams a local planning authority's policies and proposals for the development and use of land and buildings in the authority's area.

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.

Examination in Public (EIP) - consideration of public views on a draft structure plan or proposed changes to it, held before an independent inspector.

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).

Edge-of-centre - for shopping, a location within easy walking distance of the primary shopping area, often with parking and a main store; for offices or leisure purposes, the term may refer to something more extensive a little further out but at a still walkable distance from a public transport hub.

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 (Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England) - a national body funded by the government to promote and give advice on building conservation matters.

English Nature - a national body funded by the government to promote and give advice on the conservation of England's wildlife and natural features.

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

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) - under the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988, 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.

Established use - a use which does not conform to a plan but against which enforcement proceedings cannot be taken, often because of the length of time a use has been in operation.

Established Use Certificate - these were issued by a planning authority before July 1992 where it could be shown that a use of land or buildings had existed since before 1964. It gave immunity from enforcement action. Since July 1992 these have been replaced by Lawful Development Certificates.

European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP) - non-binding regional structure plan for the European Union.

General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) - the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 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.

Green Belt - specially designated area of countryside protected from most forms of development in order to stop urban sprawl and the coalescence of settlements, preserve the character of existing settlements and encourage development to locate within existing built-up areas.

Green-field Site - an area not previously used for built development.

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.

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

Integrated Transport Strategy - the integration of land-use and transportation planning to allow transport provision and the demand for travel to be planned and managed together, balancing the use of different modes of transport to encourage easy transfer between them and reduced reliance on the private car.

Land Compensation - concerns the assessment of compensation where land, or some other interest in land, is being acquired, either compulsorily, or by agreement, by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers.

Lawful Development Certificate - 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 Building - building or other structure of special architectural or historic interest included on a statutory list and assigned a grade (I, II* or II).

Listed Building Consent - a permission required for the alteration or demolition of a listed building.

Local Nature Reserve (LNR) - area designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 as being of particular importance to nature conservation and where public understanding of nature conservation issues is encouraged.

Local Plan - statutory development plan prepared by a local planning authority setting out detailed policies for environmental protection and development.

Local Planning Authority - 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 is a different arrangement.

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

Metropolitan - constituting a large urban area, usually including a city, its suburbs and outlying areas.

Mineral Planning Guidance Notes (MPGs) - a series of documents issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) (previously Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)) setting out government policy and advice on planning issues relating to mineral resources.

Minerals Planning Policy Wales - Document setting out the policy of the Welsh Assembly Government in relation to short and long term future use and safeguarding of mineral deposits.

National Assembly for Wales - Government body in Wales that debates and approves legislation and holds the Welsh Assembly Government to account.

National Nature Reserve - area designated by English Nature to protect and conserve nationally important areas of wildlife habitat and geological formations and to promote scientific research; in Wales it is an SSSI that the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has designated of national or international importance for nature conservation. (Note: on the CCW website I noticed that they also refer to National Nature Reserves, as well as SSSIs)

National Park - tract of predominantly open and attractive countryside designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 with its own administration and management role and function as a local planning authority.

Nature Conservation - the preservation, management and enhancement of natural plant and animal communities, and occasionally modified vegetation, as representative samples of their kind.

New Town - free-standing new settlement designated and planned under the New Towns Act 1946 and subsequent legislation.

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.

Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) - a provision of the Electricity Act 1989 requiring regional electricity companies to take a proportion of their electricity from energy sources other than fossil fuels.

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) - (previously Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)) government department responsible for town and country planning policy and administration.

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

Out-of-Centre - a location that is separated from a town centre but is not necessarily outside the built-up area.

Out-of-town - an out-of-centre development on a green-field site or on land not clearly within the current urban boundary.

Park and Ride - scheme enabling motorists to leave their vehicles at edge-of-town car parks and travel into town centres by public transport.

Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest (GSHI) - parks and gardens containing historic features dating from 1939 or earlier and registered by English Heritage in three grades as with historic buildings.

Permitted Development Rights - rights to carry out certain limited forms of development without the need to make an application for planning permission, as granted under the terms of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.

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.

Planning Gain - the principle of a developer agreeing to provide additional benefits or safeguards, often for the benefit of the community, usually in the form of related development supplied at the developer's expense.

Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs) - a series of documents issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) (previously Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)) setting out government policy and advice on planning issues such as housing, transport, conservation etc

Planning Policy Wales - document setting out the land use planning policies of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Proposals Map - an obligatory component of a local plan showing the location of proposals in the plan on an Ordnance Survey base map.

Protected Species - plant and animal species, including all wild birds, protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats and Conservation) Regulations 1994, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and subsequent amendments, or other species protected under legislation specific to them.

Public Open Space (POS) - land provided in urban or rural areas for public recreation, though not necessarily publicly owned.

Public Realm - outdoor areas accessible to the public.

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 (RUPP) or a byway.

Purchase Notice - this requires a local planning authority to purchase an interest in land where a planning decision conflicts with the private interests of landowners.

Ramsar Site - area identified under the internationally agreed Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as waterfowl sites and as Sites of Special Scientific Interest focusing on the ecological importance of wetlands generally.

Recycling - the recovery of reusable materials from waste.

Regional Planning Guidance Notes (RPGs) -policy guidance and advice issued for each region in England by the Secretary of State.

Regional Shopping Centre - out-of-town concentration of shops, usually containing over 50,000 square metres gross retail area, typically offering a wide range of comparison goods.

Regionally Important Geological/Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) - non-statutory sites of regional importance recognised by English Nature and local authorities.

Regulation 7 Direction - a Direction made by the Secretary of State to remove from a particular site or defined area the benefit of deemed consent normally provided by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations.

Renewable Energy - energy generated from resources that are unlimited, rapidly replenished or naturally renewable such as wind, water, sun, wave and refuse, and not from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Ribbon development - a narrow band of development extending along one or both sides of a road.

Rural Development Area - priority area for economic and social development.

Rural Diversification - activities undertaken on surplus land to support farming incomes, including, for example, forestry, leisure and tourism.

Scheduled Ancient Monument - a structure placed on a schedule compiled by the Department of National Heritage in England and Cadw in Wales for protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.

Section 106 Agreement (see Planning Gain) - a binding agreement between a council and a developer associated with a grant of planning permission and regarding matters linked to the proposed development.

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

Special Needs Housing - housing to meet need arising from homelessness or overcrowding, and purpose-built or supported housing for the elderly or disabled people or those requiring care.

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 going on pending the outcome of an appeal.

Structure Plan - statutory plan setting out key strategic policies which provide the framework for more detailed policies in local plans.

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

Supplementary Planning Guidance - additional advice issued by a local planning authority expanding upon its statutory policies.

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".

TANs - technical advice notes for Wales which provide topic-based supplements to the policy document Planning Policy Wales.

Town Centre - describes city, town and traditional suburban centres which provide a broad range of facilities and services and which fulfil a function as a focus for a community and for public transport.

Town Centre Management - partnership of local organisations, businesses and individuals to promote the common good of a town by developing, managing, promoting and improving facilities, the useful resources, the economy and the environment of a town centre.

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

Traffic Calming - management measures designed to lower traffic speeds or redirect traffic to alternative routes to avoid congestion, reduce accidents and injuries and prevent excess levels of pollution.

Transport Policy and Programme (TPP) - statutory document setting out a transport authority's bid for the programming and funding of transport measures, produced annually for submission to central government.

Travel to Work Area (TTWA) - a broadly self-contained labour market area usually focused on an urban employment centre.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO) - direction made by a local planning authority that makes it an offence to cut, top, lop, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a tree without that authority's permission.

Unitary Development Plan - local plan produced by certain unitary district authorities and London boroughs which have responsibility for the full range of local authority services.

Urban Fringe - predominantly open land on the edge of an existing urban area.

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 1987 puts uses of land and buildings into various categories, planning permission not being required for changes of use within the same use class. In practice changes between use classes are likely to require planning permission.

Village envelope - boundaries defined on a map beyond which the local planning authority proposes that a village should not be allowed to extend.

Welsh Assembly Government - a body that develops and implements policy in Wales via the civil service and a range of sponsored bodies.

Wildlife Corridor - a continuous area facilitating the movement of wildlife through rural or urban environments.

Wind Farm - large open site where wind speeds are consistently high on which a number of wind turbines generate electricity for private or commercial use.

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

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