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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 164 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
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.


Most development needs permission to proceed. Development has a legal definition, found in section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. There are two parts to the definition. The first is operational development, which includes the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land. The second is changes of use, which covers the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or land.

Development consent order

Applicants promoting nationally significant infrastructure projects in the fields of energy, transport, water and waste will apply for a 'development consent order' rather than for planning permission under the Planning Act 2008. A development consent order, when issued, combines the grant of planning permission with a range of other consents that in other circumstances have to be applied for separately, such as listed building consent. All applications for development consent orders will be made to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC).

Development management/control

Local planning authorities have powers to manage the development and use of land. Development management is the process through which it determines whether (and for what reasons and with what conditions) individual planning applications should be granted or refused.

Development plan

A development plan sets out the policies and proposals for the development, conservation and use of land and buildings in a particular local planning authority area. The development plan is the most important consideration for local planning authorities when they decide on a planning application. The development plan generally includes Development Plan Documents (DPDs) that are part of a local planning authority’s Local Plan. This includes waste and minerals documents prepared by county councils. The Localism Act 2011 made two key changes to the development plan. First, the Regional Strategies that have been part of it since 2004 will be abolished. Secondly, Neighbourhood Plans that have been prepared covering any part of the local planning authority area will become part of the development plan if they’ve received enough support in a referendum.

Development plan document

Under the new system of local planning brought in under the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the term 'development plan document' covers any Local Development Document that is part of the development plan. A development plan document has to be independently tested by a Government inspector and carries full weight in relation to planning applications, which distinguishes it from a supplementary planning document. Development plan documents include the local planning authority's core strategy, area action plans and proposals map.

District council

The lower tier, or where parish or town councils exist, middle tier, of the two or three-tier county shire local authority structure in England. District council responsibilities include planning, waste collection and provision of leisure facilities.

Duty to cooperate

The duty to cooperate was created in the Localism Act 2011. It places a legal duty on local planning authorities, county councils in England and public bodies to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of local plan preparation in the context of strategic cross boundary matters.

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