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Glossary of terms used on this site

There are 164 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition

The process of working out the issues, environmental impacts, alternatives and depth of investigation which an environmental impact assessment or strategic environmental assessment should go into.


The process of deciding whether a plan or programme needs a strategic environmental assessment.

Secretary of state

The secretary of state is the most senior Government minister responsible for the work of his or her department. The Government department responsible for planning is the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Section 106 agreement

The section of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that provided for the creation of planning obligations, now replaced by Section 46 of the 2004 act. Section 106 agreements allow local authorities to ensure that developers provide the infrastructure needed to support new developments. See also planning gain.


Strategic land availability assessments purpose is to identify sites with potential for housing; assess their housing potential; and assess when they are likely to be developed.


A Strategic housing market assessment is a study of the way the housing market works in any particular area. It looks into the type of households living in the area, where they work and what sort of housing they live in. It attempts to estimate future housing needs across the area, broken down by tenure and size of housing.

Site of special scientific interest

A site of special scientific interest is identified by English Nature under section 28 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 as requiring protection from damaging development on account of its flora, fauna, geological and/or physiological features.

Social inclusion/exclusion

A site of special scientific interest is identified by English Nature under section 28 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 as requiring protection from damaging development on account of its flora, fauna, geological and/or physiological features.


The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 requires that development plan documents be 'sound' (see PPS11, paragraph 2.49). A straightforward interpretation of soundness is that the document shows good judgement and is able to be trusted. The Planning Inspectorate is developing measures and processes for assessing soundness and they include whether the document conforms with national planning policy, whether it has clear mechanisms for implementation, whether it is founded on a robust and credible evidence base, whether it has taken proper account of the views of the community and whether it has been prepared following the proper procedures.

Spatial planning

Spatial planning is also called ‘place shaping’ and has a wider focus than traditional land use planning. It’s about identifying a vision for the future of a place which responds to local needs and circumstances, including community views, and is based on evidence. This vision is translated into priorities, policies and the identification of land for development. Spatial planning creates a framework for private investment and regeneration. By agreeing a delivery plan, it seeks to co-ordinate and deliver public-sector parts of the plan with other agencies. Spatial planning should set a positive framework for action on climate change, and contribute to sustainable development.

Spatial strategy

The spatial strategy identifies what and how much development is needed to meet local needs, and broadly where it should be concentrated.

Standing Advisory Committee for Trunk Ro

An independent committee appointed by the secretary of state for transport to advise on issues related to the appraisal of trunk roads.

Statement of case

A document served prior to an inquiry into a planning appeal, detailing full particulars of the case to be put forward, including the technical data on which the party wishes to rely.

Statements of Community Involvement

Statements of Community Involvement set out how the local planning authority will engage local communities in plan making: who they will engage and how. In particular, they list the community groups and other organisations which will be contacted about Local Plan stages, and the methods of consultation which will be used. Hard-to-reach groups are identified, and methods of helping them get involved set out.


Something required by law (statute), usually through an act of Parliament.

Statutory agencies

Government agencies that are established by statute, or law. There are four environmental statutory agencies: English Heritage, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency and English Nature.

Statutory consultee

A statutory consultee is a body the local planning authority must consult if a planning application could affect their interests. For example, the Highways Agency must be consulted on applications that could affect a major road, and the Environment Agency must be consulted on development that would affect a river or culvert.

Stop notice

A notice served by a local planning authority prohibiting the carrying out or continuing of specified operations which are alleged to constitute a breach of planning control. The notice is designed to stop work pending the outcome of an appeal.

Strategic policies

These are the policies that cover the ‘big ideas’ included in your Local Plan, rather than the more detailed requirements. The National Planning Policy Framework defines what issues are classed as strategic, and these include housing provision, mitigation against climate change, and provision of waste infrastructure.

Structure plan

The county-level statutory plan that used to set out key strategic policies which provide the framework for more detailed policies in district-level Local Plans. The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 removed the need to prepare Structure Plans.

Supplementary Planning Documents

Supplementary Planning Documents (or SPDs) are prepared by district or unitary authorities, and form part of the Local Plan for an area. SPDs usually provide more detail on policies in Development Plan Documents (DPDs), for example on design or local affordable housing policy. They are not a part of the formal development plan, but are a material consideration when deciding on a planning application. Because they are not part of the development plan, SPDs do not have to be consulted on as extensively as DPDs, and do not undergo Sustainability Appraisal or independent examination. An SPD is also known as Supplementary Planning Guidance.

Sustainability Appraisal

Sustainability Appraisal assesses the economic, environmental and social impacts of a proposed policy or plan, to ensure that it would contribute to achieving sustainable development. Development Plan Documents (DPDs) have to undergo Sustainability Appraisal, but Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) do not.

Sustainable Community Strategy

Sustainable Community Strategies are prepared for every local authority area. These provide a strategy for promoting or improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area and contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. They set out the issues which are important to local people, and how they might be tackled, to move towards a ‘vision’ of how the place should be in the future.

Sustainable development

That tries to make sure people satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a good quality of life without compromising the quality of life for future generations. The Government will try to achieve that through five principles. These principles being,living within environmental limits, ensuring a strong, healthy and just society achieving a sustainable economy promoting good governance and using sound science responsibly.

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