Planning Glossary

Attwells Solicitors are committed to quick, jargon-free planning law. We have produced this useful planning law glossary to help.

Adoption – This is a term used when a Council has developed a new ‘Local Plan’ and its Councillors have voted to use it in its planning decision making process – it is known as the ‘adopted Local Plan’.

Affordable Housing – Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing is provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices.

Amenity – This has several meanings in the planning context. The main definitions relate to residential amenity, i.e. a person’s enjoyment of their property in terms of privacy, outlook, light, etc., and in respect of general amenity, i.e. a positive elements that contribute to the overall character or enjoyment of an area.

AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These are areas designated for conservation as they have significant landscape value. These areas have a level of protection from development.

Appeal – If a planning application is refused by the Council, there is a right to appeal that decision. The appeal is dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), who will allocate an Inspector to consider the proposed development.

Backland Development – Development of sites located behind existing building, i.e. rear gardens, which have no recognised frontage onto a road.

Breach of Condition Notice (BCN) – If a development has been carried out and is not in accordance with the requirements of a condition of a planning permission, then a Council may serve a Breach of Condition Notice (BCN) to ensure the condition is complied with.

Brownfield Land and Sites – Brownfield Land is land that is or was occupied by a permanent structure and includes any land associated with that structure and any associated fixed surface infrastructure. It is also known as ‘previously developed land’.

Building Preservation Notice (BPN) – This is a Notice applied to a building allowing time for the Secretary of State to consider whether the building is of special historic or architectural interest and therefore whether it should be listed. This Notice is used if such a building is under threat from demolition or alteration.

Certificate of Immunity from Listing – A certificate to provide immunity from the issue of a Building Preservation Notice for five years (if planning permission has been or is being sought for development).

Change of Use – A change in the way that land and/or buildings are used. A material (significant) change of use normally requires planning permission.

CLD / LDC / CLEUD / CLOPUD – Certificate of Lawful Development. These are applications that seek to determine whether a development or use is ‘lawful’. If an existing use or development does not have planning permission and should, then it can become lawful after a certain period of time has passed and a Certificate can be applied for. Alternatively, if you would like confirmation that a proposed use or development does not require planning permission, then you can apply for a Certificate for this also.

Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) – For major development projects, land may be required to enable the development. A CPO is made by the government or a Council to acquire the land to deliver the development in the public interest.

Conditions (or 'Planning Condition') – When planning permission is granted, it is usually granted with conditions limiting the time period for starting the development. Conditions can also be included requiring the submission of further details in respect of the proposed development, for example details of the materials to be used.

Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) – A parking scheme established and operated by a Council in which on-street parking in a particular area is restricted to only those vehicles with parking permits issued by the Council.

Delegated Powers – Decisions can be delegated to Planning Officers by Councillors on certain planning matters. Such decision are known as ‘Delegated Decisions’ or ‘Officer Level Decisions’.

Design Code – A guidance document in respect of the design of new development.

Development Plan / Local Plan – A Development Plan, or Local Plan, is a document produced by a local Council, which includes all the planning policies that aim to guide development. Policies can cover a range of subjects including new houses, employment, ecology, transport, etc. Planning applications are considered against the policies contained in the Development Plan.

Development Plan Documents (DPDs) – Collection of documents forming the Development Plan, such as a Core Strategy, proposals maps and specific development policies document.

Enforcement Action – When a development is carried out without planning permission or does not accord with the conditions of a permission, the Council has procedures that it can implement to ensure that the development is brought under planning control. An example is an Enforcement Notice.

Enforcement Notice (EN) – Enforcement Notices are served by local Councils if a use or development has been carried out without planning permission and the Council considers that the use or development is unacceptable. There is a right to appeal against an Enforcement Notice within 28 days of its service. Failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice once it has taken effect is a criminal offence.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – An assessment to be carried out for certain development so that any decisions are made in full knowledge of any possible significant effects on the environment.

Flood Zones – These are areas of land at risk of flooding. There are three Flood Zones 1-3, with 1 being the area at lowest risk of flooding and 3 being at highest risk of flooding.

Full Application – This is a type of planning application where the full details of a proposal, i.e. including house design, materials, etc., will be submitted for consideration by the Council. Also known as a Detailed Application.

General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) – Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. The GPDO is a piece of legislation that grants planning permission for certain minor types of development, including changes of use. If the development is not included in the GPDO, then a planning application is required for that development.

Green Belt – Green Belts are large areas of designated lands usually surrounding large cities and metropolitan areas. Land within Green Belts are subject to a great amount of protection from development in order to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open.

Greenfield Land or Site – This is land that has not been developed. Such land is usually agricultural land.

Housing Land Availability (HLA) – The total amount of land that will be used for residential development.

Infill Development – A development within a small gap in between existing buildings (normally dwellings).

Informal Hearing – Normally undertaken during a planning or enforcement appeal, an informal hearing is a structured meeting to discuss the key issues.

Inspector's Report – When an application is refused and an appeal is submitted, the Planning Inspector will consider the proposal and write a report detailing its decision on the appeal. It is also known as an appeal decision.

Judicial Review (JR) – These are Court proceedings that place in the High Court whereby the reasonableness and lawfulness of decisions made by a Council can be reviewed.

Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) – A certificate issued, upon application, by a Council to confirm that an existing use/development or a proposed use/development is lawful either through the passage of time or due it not requiring planning permission.

Limits of Development – Also known as ‘development boundaries’, ‘built-up-area boundaries’ and ‘village envelopes’. These areas define areas of development in order to limit development from extending into the countryside.

Listed Building (LB) – A building is listed if it is of special architectural and historic interest and requires protection for future generations. The listing covers the whole building and can also include outbuildings.

Listed Building Consent (LBC) – The consent of the Council is required for any works to alter, extend or demolish (in whole or in part) a listed building and the works would affect the character of the building. Works carried out without consent constitute a criminal offence.

Listed Building Enforcement Notice (LBEN) – A Notice issued by the Council where work has been carried out on a listed building without listed building consent. The Notice will require that the building is returned to its former state or other remedial works. Failure to comply with a Listed Building Enforcement Notice once it has taken effect is a criminal offence.

Local Development Documents (LDDs) – These documents include the Development Plan, i.e. the Local Plan, and any Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs).

Local Development Framework (LDF) – The documents comprising the LDDs and other important documents such as the Statement of Community Involvement and the annual Monitoring Report.

Local Development Order (LDO) – An Order made by a Council that grants planning permission for a specific development proposal or classes of development, i.e. extensions, changes of use.

Localism Act – Piece of government legislation that devolves powers to Council and neighbourhoods to allow more control over housing and planning.

Mixed Use – Land or buildings with a variety of uses, but no one dominant use.

NPPF – National Planning Policy Framework. This is a document produced by the Government that sets out the overall aims for planning in England; it applies to all Councils.

Outline Application – An application submitted to establish that the principle of a development is acceptable.

Outstanding Planning Permission – Also known as an extant planning permission, this is a planning permission that has yet to be implemented and there remains time to do so.

Over-Development – Overdevelopment occurs if the amount of development proposed is excessive for the size of plot and its impacts on the locality, including on infrastructure and services.

Permitted Development (PD, or Permitted Development Rights) – Planning permission granted by government legislation, the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, for certain (minor or limited) forms of development, such as extensions and outbuildings, subject to conforming within certain parameters. This means that such development does not need an application to be submitted. Permitted Development rights can be removed by an ‘Article 4 Direction’ or by a planning condition, and this should be checked with the local Council before proceeding with works.

Permitted Reserves – Mineral deposits, the extraction of which has been granted planning permission.

Planning Condition – A condition imposed on a grant of planning permission, or included in a Local Development Order or Neighbourhood Development Order.

Planning Obligation – A legal agreement entered into under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal.

Planning Permission – This is the formal approval given by a Council for a proposed development following submission of a planning application.

Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) – Guidance produced by the government to supplement national land use policies (NPPF).

Planning Policy Statement (PPS) – Produced by the government to provide clarity on national policy advice on practical implementation.

Prior Approval – A type of application submitted to a Council to consider details of a development permitted by the GPDO.

Public Right of Way – A highway that the public have a right of access over, e.g. a public footpath or bridleway.

Ribbon Development – Residential development that has taken place either side of a road.

Rural Diversification – Change or expansion of a rural operation away from traditional agriculture.

Rural Exception Site – Small sites used for affordable housing in locations that would not normally be used for housing. These sites seek to address the needs of the local community by accommodating households who are either current residents or have an existing family or employment connection.

Safeguarding Zone – An area to which safeguarding provisions apply, surrounding aerodromes, technical sites and military explosives areas.

Section 106 Agreement – A legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These agreements are between the Council and a land owner / developer that ensure certain extra works relating to a development are undertaken.

Settlement / Built-Up Area Boundary – This is a line drawn on the Council’s maps that defines urban areas from the countryside. Areas within settlement / built-up area boundaries are more likely to obtain planning permission for new residential development than those outside of the boundaries.

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – This is a designated area for nature conservation and such areas are protected from development. These sites are designated by Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Site Visit – A site visit forms part of a Planning Officer’s assessment of a planning application. The Case Officer will visit the property to consider the context of the site and to consider how the development proposal would relate to the area. A Site Visit will also be carried out by a Planning Inspector during an appeal process, and also by an Enforcement Officer during a planning enforcement investigation.

Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – These are areas that are given special protection as important conservation sites. These areas are defined by regulation 3 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

Special Needs Housing (SNH) – Housing provided for those who may be disadvantaged, i.e. elderly, disabled, homeless, etc.

Special Protection Areas (SPA) – These are areas that have been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds. These areas are defined by regulation 15 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) – This statement details the involvement of the community in the preparation and alteration of local development document, such as Local Plans.

Subservient – This is a term used to describe an extension to a dwelling that is of a smaller scale and is respectful to an existing dwelling to which it is attached.

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD) – These are documents produced by Councils; they provide further detail to the policies within a Development Plan. SPDs are also used to give guidance on particular issues, including design, and can be considered as part of the application process.

Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) – Similar to a SPDs, SPGs cover issues in order to provide further detail on policies and proposals.

Sustainability Appraisal (including Environmental Appraisal) – An appraisal of the social, economic and environmental effects of a development plan, prepared at the beginning of the plan making process.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO) – Trees that are covered by a TPO are protected for their amenity value, i.e. their removal would have a significant negative impact on the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. Works to protected trees require consent.

Unauthorised Development – This is development that has taken place without planning permission. Unauthorised development is at risk of enforcement action.

Unitary Development Plan (UDP) – A development plan produced by a metropolitan or unitary authority. There are few ‘UDPs’ remaining across England.

Use Classes Order (UCO) – This relates to the categorisation of certain ‘uses’ to which land and buildings are used for. The legislation relating to this is the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, which includes a schedule outlining the various different ‘use classes’.

Vernacular Building – A building based on traditional or regional design forms.

White Land – This is land, including buildings, which is not specifically allocated within a development plan and where it is intended that the existing uses shall remain largely unaltered.

Windfall Site – A site for development not specifically identified in the development plan.