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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 164 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
Affordable housing

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defines affordable housing as social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing. It is provided to meet the needs of people who cannot afford housing through the open market. Social rents are determined nationally, affordable rents are 80% of the market rent in that area, and intermediate housing allow people to part buy their home.


Aggregates are crushed rock, sand and gravel used in the construction industry for materials such as concrete, roadstone and asphalt, or for use as constructional fill or railway ballast.


The pleasant or normally satisfactory aspects of a location which contribute to its overall character and the enjoyment of residents or visitors The Minister of Town and Country Planning in 1951 stated that 'anything ugly, dirty, noisy, crowded or uncomfortable may injure the interests of amenity'. Amenity is often a material consideration in planning decisions.

Annual progress report

Each year, most authorities need to submit an annual progress report to Government detailing how the policies in the local transport plan are being implemented and transport funding used.

Appraisal of sustainability

Under Section 6 (6) of the Planning Act 2008 the Secretary of State must carry out an 'appraisal of sustainability' of policies set out in a draft National Policy Statement, or an amendment to it, before adoption. Such an appraisal is distinct from Strategic Environmental Assessment, but the appraisal will incorporate SEA where it applies. It is also distinct from Sustainability Appraisal, which is carried out for lower level development plans.

Appraisal summary table

A table which shows the appraisal of possible transport options against the Government's criteria for transport: environmental impact, safety, economy, accessibility and integration. They are produced by the proposer of a scheme, such as the Highways Agency or Highway Authority.

Area Action Plans

A type of Development Plan Document, which focuses on areas of change or conservation. Their purpose is to deliver planned growth, stimulate regeneration, protect areas sensitive to change through conservation policies, make proposals for enhancement and resolve conflicting objectives in areas where there is significant development pressure. As Development Plan Documents, Area Action Plans form part of the development plan for the purposes of making decisions on planning applications.

Areas of change

Areas identified in a Local Plan as ones that the local authority expects to change, through, for example, development pressure or regeneration initiatives.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) were brought into being by the same legislation as National Parks - the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949. They are fine landscapes, of great variety in character and extent. The primary objective of their designation is the conservation area's natural beauty, although many of them also fulfil a great recreational purpose. The Countryside Agency is responsible for designating AONBs in England and advising Government on policies for their protection. There are 36 in all, covering about 15% of England.

Article 4 direction

A direction under Article 4 of the The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 that allows the Secretary of State or Local Planning Authority to require a planning application for development that would normally not need one because it would be covered by permitted development rights. Local planning authorities no longer need the approval of the Secretary of State to make an article 4 direction.


See local authority, local planning authority, local waste authority, unitary authorities.

Brownfield land or site

Brownfield land is another term for previously developed land, or land that contains or contained a permanent structure and associated infrastructure. Brownfield land occurs in rural and urban areas, but does not include agricultural or forestry land or buildings. The National Planning Policy Framework encourages local authorities to plan to reuse brownfield land before greenfield sites, as long as the brownfield site is not more environmentally valuable. See also greenfield.

Catchment management plans

Documents prepared by the Environment Agency which set out its vision for the future of individual river catchments. They contain an analysis of the issues affecting each catchment, such as water and sewerage infrastructure, waste disposal and flood plain planning, with programmes of work to achieve proposed solutions.

Certificate of lawfulness

Can be issued by the local planning authority to describe the precise use, operation or building works on a site which is allowed without the need to apply for planning permission. Whether the development is lawful is defined in legislation under The Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 and the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

Change of use

All buildings are classified as having a use, for example, retail. Planning permission is generally required if you want to change this use. Some use changes count as permitted development so don’t need planning permission. For example, changing a hot food takeaway to a shop is permitted development.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

CIL is a levy on new development that will be set by local planning authorities, and can be used to pay for new infrastructure such as schools and roads. CIL money will be collected to pay for infrastructure in a local authority area. While CIL is currently optional, from April 2013 local authorities will not be able to raise money for infrastructure through section 106 agreements. This means that most local authorities are likely to have a CIL scheme in place by this time.

Community Right to Build

The Community Right to Build, implemented through Community Right to Build Orders, allows a local community group to bring forward a small development for one or more purposes, such as new homes, businesses and community facilities, but it must be small scale in comparison to the size of settlement.

Community strategy

Community strategies should set out a vision for a local authority's area along with actions and commitments to further economic, social and environmental well-being. Community strategies are usually prepared by a body called a local strategic partnership, made up of representatives from local bodies and interest groups.

Competent authority

Under the EU directive on strategic environmental assessment (SEA), the competent authority is the body which must consider the SEA report before coming to a decision on whether to adopt a programme or plan.

Compulsory purchase

When land is taken without the agreement of the owner. Housing authorities and highway authorities are among the bodies that have compulsory purchase powers.


Planning conditions are provisions attached to the granting of planning permission. They can:

- Limit permitted development rights for a particular site.
- Modify the proposals in a planning application, by, for example, reducing the size of the affected site or adding a provision. On sites worked for minerals or waste disposal this can include restoration through backfilling of a certain type of soil, and/or 'aftercare' - to bring the land back into a use specified by the minerals planning authority.
- Govern the occupancy (though not the ownership) of dwellings used by agricultural workers.
- Grant planning permission only to a named person, rather than leave it in force for a site regardless of the owner as is usually the case.

Conditions are different from planning obligations, because they can only be enforced through the planning enforcement regime. Conditions also cannot involve cash payments by the developer, either voluntarily or at the request of the local planning authority. On the other hand, developers have the opportunity to get a condition removed that they don't like, by appealing against the imposition of conditions.

The Government's five policy tests for conditions are that they must be necessary, relevant to planning, relevant to the development to be permitted, enforceable, precise and reasonable in all other respects. More detail on Government policy on planning conditions is in Circular 11/1995 (found in Government policies).

Conservation area

An area of special architectural or historic interest, designated under the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1991, whose character and appearance it is desirable to preserve and enhance. There are special rules on some development in conservation areas.

Consultation statement

A document that needs to be submitted to the local planning authority with a draft Neighbourhood Plan. It should set out details of who was consulted on the draft Neighbourhood Plan, how they were consulted, the main issues and concerns raised, and how these have been addressed in your Neighbourhood Plan.

Core Strategy

The Core Strategy is the main part of a local authority's Local Plan. It should set out the vision, spatial strategy and core policies for the spatial development of the area.

County council

The elected governing body of a county. Counties are usually divided into several districts, each with its own separate local administration (districts may be called boroughs in some cases). County council responsibilities include transport, schools, administrating births and marriages, and minerals and waste planning.

De minimis

From the Latin de minimis non curat lex ('the law does not deal with trivial matters'). This is a term accorded to activities or changes too minor to fall within the legal definition of development. The local planning authority would decide that such changes would make no difference to the outward appearance of a building. This generally includes installation of equipment such as television aerials, microcells or small antennas.


See housing density

Department for Transport

The part of Government responsible for transport. The Department's stated objective is to oversee the delivery of a reliable, safe and secure transport system that responds efficiently to the needs of individuals and business whilst safeguarding our environment.

Design guide

A document that provides guidance on how development can be carried out in accordance with design policies of a local authority . Design guides are issued by some counties and many district and unitary authorities.


Another word for decision. A local authority determines how to rule on a planning application or planning appeal.

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