Planning Jargon: Explained
This is a guide to the most commonly-used terms in the world of planning and building.
This list is in alphabetical order. Press Ctrl+F to quick search, or ⌘+F on Mac OS.
Adoption: A final confirmation/approval given by a local planning authority to a Development Plan or Local Development Document.
Affordable Housing: Housing aimed at people who cannot afford to buy or rent a property on the open market. Eligibility has regard to local incomes and local house prices. It includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing and is provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.
Appeal: The right of the applicant to challenge a local authority’s decision on a planning refusal, conditions imposed on planning permissions and listed building consents refusals.
Area Action Plan: A type of Development Plan Document that sets out policies and proposals for a specific area, e.g. a town centre.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB): A statutory designation recognising an area of significant landscape value.
Architects Registration Board (ARB): The UK’s statutory regulator of architects. Has consumers' interests at heart. Maintains a register of architects and disciplines as necessary. Sets the Code of Conduct for the profession.
Article 4 Direction: An order under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended) which allows the Secretary of State or Local planning authority to restrict normal permitted development rights.
Biodiversity: The variety of plants and animals in the environment.
Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM): A voluntary rating to measure the sustainability of new non-domestic buildings in the UK by the BRE (see below).
Brownfield Site/Land: Land which is, or previously has been, occupied by a permanent structure.
Building Information Modelling/Management (BIM): A method of compiling and coordinating project information, usually using one piece of collaborative software used by the whole consultant team, aiming to reduce errors and produce multi-dimensional layers of information from one model (e.g. plans, sections, schedules, cost reports, risk assessments etc.). BIM is compulsory for all Government contracts.
Building Regulations: Secondary legislation made under the Building Act 1984 that seeks to ensure the safety of people in or around buildings, conserve fuel and power and prevent waste and contamination of water.
Building Research Establishment (BRE): An independent research body carrying out research into building materials and advising on difficulties within construction.
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE): A charity devoted to protecting and enhancing rural England.
Canal and River Trust: A charity entrusted with responsibility for waterways, networks of bridges, embankments, towpaths, aqueducts, docks and reservoirs in England & Wales. The trust must be informed of certain planning applications which seek to affect such assets.
Change of Use: A change in the way that land or buildings are used. Planning permission may be required in order to change from one 'use class' to another (see Use Classes Order).
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL): A planning charge imposed on developers who wish to undertake new building projects. The charge helps local authorities deliver infrastructure and support development within the area.
Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO): An order to acquire land or buildings for public interest purposes by the government or a local authority
Conservation Area: An area of special architectural or historic interest designated by the local planning authority, providing greater power to control works and demolition of buildings to protect or improve the character or appearance of the area.
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2015: Secondary legislation placing duties on the clients, designers and contractors of a construction project to improve safety, planning and management during design, construction and occupation of a building.
Core Strategy: A Development Plan Document setting out the spatial vision and strategic objectives of the planning framework for an area, having regard to the Community Strategy.
Covenant: A restriction on the use of land.
Curtilage: The area immediately surrounding a building and used within the boundaries of, and used in connection with that main building. The definition of Curtilage is the subject of many planning law cases.
Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG): The central government department responsible for national planning in England at the national level, including strategy and sustainability.
Development: The carrying out of building, engineering or other operations in, or under or over land, and the making of a material change in the use of buildings or other land.
Development Plan: A document setting out the local planning authority's policies and proposals for the development and use of land and buildings in the authority's area.
Development Plan Document: Development Plan Documents are prepared by local planning authorities and outline the key development goals of the local development framework
Easement: The right to use another person’s property without possessing it.
Enforcement Notice: A formal notice served by a local planning authority setting out the action necessary to put right work or correct an activity that appears to have been undertaken without the benefit of planning permission.
Environment Agency (EA): An non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) with responsibilities relating to the protection and enhancement of the environment in England.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): A procedure to ensure that decisions regarding particular projects are made in the knowledge of any likely significant effects on the environment.
Extant Planning Permission: A ‘live’ planning permission that has yet to be implemented.
Flood Risk Assessment (FRA): An assessment of the likelihood of flooding in a particular area so that development needs and mitigation measures can be carefully considered.
Five Year Housing Land Supply: An annual review conducted by local authorities to determine whether there are sufficient deliverable sites within the local area to allow for the provision of five years’ worth of housing, based on the identified housing requirement for the area.
Full Application: Seeks detailed planning permission for a development proposal with no matters reserved for later approval.
General Permitted Development Order (GPDO): A set of regulations made by the Government which grants planning permission for specified limited or minor forms of development.
Green Belt: A designation of land around certain cities and large built-up areas, which aims to keep this land permanently open or largely undeveloped (to prevent urban sprawl and protect countryside). There are tighter planning controls on Green Belt land.
Greenfield Site/Land: Land which has not previously been developed, or fully-restored formerly derelict land which has been brought back into active or beneficial use for agriculture, forestry, environmental purposes, or outdoor recreation.
Gross Floor Area: A measurement of the overall dimensions of a building, (or part) on each floor below and above ground, which includes internal and external walls.
Historic England (officially the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England): An executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It is tasked with protecting the historical environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, ancient monuments and advising central and local government.
Lawful Development Certificate (including a Certificate of lawfulness of existing or proposed use or development): A certificate issued by the Local Planning Authority stating that an existing or proposed use, or other forms of development can be considered as lawful for planning purposes.
Listed Building: A building of special architectural or historic interest. Listed Buildings are graded I, II* or II, with grade I being of highest significance.
Listed Building Consent (LBC): Formal consent that allows the alteration, extension or demolition of a Listed Building. It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised work to a Listed Building.
Local planning authority (LPA): The public authority whose duty it is to determine planning applications and create planning policy for its area. This can include district, borough and county councils as well as the Broads Authority, National Park Authority and the Greater London Authority.
Local Development Framework: A non-statutory term used to describe a folder of documents, which includes the local development documents of a local planning authority.
Local Development Order: An Order made by a local planning authority that grants planning permission for a specific development proposal or classes of development.
Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP): An organisation normally comprised of local businesses, councils and other bodies, established to promote and improve economic growth in an area.
Localism Act: An Act of Parliament with the aim of devolving power away from central government and towards the local level.
Material Consideration: An important matter that could be taken into account in deciding a planning application or on an appeal against a planning decision.
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): The document setting out central government’s national planning policies for England. First published in March 2012.
Natural England: A public body for England. Responsible for protecting and improving the natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils.
Neighbourhood Plan: A plan for a particular neighbourhood area as prepared by a Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum introduced by the Localism Act 2011.
Neighbourhood Forum: A body leading on a neighbourhood plan where no town or parish council exists.
Outline Planning Application: A general application for planning permission to establish whether a development is acceptable in principle, subject to subsequent approval of detailed reserved matters.
Parish Council: A tier of local government in England. Responsible for a number of local functions. Local planning authorities are obliged to notify parish councils of planning applications in their area.
Party Structure: Party wall, party floor, partition or other structure separating buildings or parts of buildings approached solely by separate entrances.
Party Wall: A dividing partition between two adjoining buildings. Governed by the Party Wall Act 1996. Notice must be given if work is to be done or near the party wall.
Permitted Development Rights: Rights to carry out certain limited forms of development and changes of use without the need to make a planning or other application, as granted under the terms of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended). Permitted development rights can be revoked under an Article 4 Direction and / or conditions are sometimes added to planning permissions withdrawing permitted development rights. Our YouTube video explains this with examples, but as the rules change frequently we advise you get in touch before starting building work.
Planning Committee: An appointed body of locally elected councillors that make decisions on planning matters on behalf of the local planning authority.
Planning conditions: A condition attached to a planning permission. Applicants must usually discharge the conditions before development commences (e.g. confirming brick type and colour with the council) or having to start development within a time period.
Planning Inspectorate: Government’s agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government, dealing with the decision making on planning and enforcement appeals, public examination of Development Plans and other matters including national infrastructure planning.
Planning obligations: Legal agreements, usually between the local planning authority and the developer ensuring that certain extra works or payments are made related to the development. Examples include Section 106 Agreements or Unilateral Undertakings.
Planning permission: Formal approval from the local planning authority that allows development to a proceed with a proposed development. Includes outline planning permission.
Planning policy: Statements issued by central and local government that guides how planning applications ought to be considered.
Planning Portal: A national website used to submit most types of planning and other applications as well as appeals. It also contains general information on planning matters.
Prior approval: Approval sought from the local planning authority to ensure that specified elements of a permitted development are acceptable prior to starting works.
Reserved matters: An application dealing with some or all of the outstanding details following a grant of outline planning permission. Reserved matters can include access, appearance, layout, scale and landscaping.
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA): A professional body promoting the role of architects and architecture. The RIBA’s Code of Conduct sets a ‘gold standard’ for its members, in addition to that of the Architect's Registration Board.
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI): The principal body representing planning professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The RTPI sets a Code of Conduct of professional and ethical standards of its members.
Scheduled Monument: Nationally important site given legal protection by being placed on a schedule compiled and reviewed by Historic England.
Secured by Design: An Initiative by the UK Police to design out crime. A Secured by Design licensed company provides products that are tested and pass standard police specifications.
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): A site designated by Natural England as an area of special interest by reason of any of its flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features.
Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) Calculation: The government’s method of making energy ratings for dwellings. SAP can show compliance with Part L1 of the Building Regulations (domestic dwellings).
Statement of Community Involvement (SCI): Sets out the processes of the local authority in involving the community in the preparation, alteration and continuing review of all local development documents and development management decisions.
Stop Notice and/or Injunction: A notice served to prevent a construction or material change of use. Can only be served after an enforcement notice. There is no appeal against a Stop Notice. Failure to observe it can result in very heavy penalties and daily penalties.
Sui Generis: A use of land or buildings that do not fall into any of the use classes identified by the Use Classes Order.
Supplementary Planning Documents/ Guidance: Documents which add further detail to the policies in the Local Plan such as House Extension Guidelines.
Sustainability Appraisal: An appraisal of the economic, environmental and social effects of a plan from the outset of the preparation process to allow decisions to be made that accord with sustainable development.
Tree Preservation Order (TPO): A mechanism for securing the preservation of a single or group of trees of acknowledged amenity value. A tree subject to a tree preservation order may not normally be topped, lopped or felled without permission of the local planning authority.
Underpinning: The process of strengthening and stabilising the foundation of an existing structure. The Party Wall Act 1996 forbids the use of reinforced concrete without consent.
Use Classes Order: The uses of land and buildings is put into various categories as explained by The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).
Visibility Splay: The area around a road junction or access which should be free from obstruction to ensure motorists can see traffic and pedestrians.
Windfall Site: A site which has not been specifically identified as available in the Local Plan process. They normally comprise previously-developed sites that have unexpectedly become available.
Want us to add a definition to the list? Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org