Our Planning Glossary


SPS has compiled this glossary which explains planning terms and provides practical tips. By clicking on the green wording you will also find links to other websites and to key statutes, policies, assessments and guidance.

We are always up-dating the glossary, so if you find something we've missed, send it to us. Knowledge is strength so share what you know.

Conservation Area Historic areas designated by a local authority and protected by Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Local authorities have a duty to preserve and enhance these areas.

Conservation Area Appraisal most conservation areas have one, and you can find them on your District's planning website. They vary in detail but should map the area, describe its history and architecture, and list buildings of particular merit. If you think a proposal is wrong for the Conservation Area, the assessment may provide evidence to support or change your view.Tip - alert your District Conservation Officer and ask them to make a site visit.

Delegated Authority. Most planning decisions are made by an individual planning officer under "delegated authority" but controversial decisions are referred to a District's Planning and Development Committee, which is composed of District Councillors who consider the planning officer's report and other evidence. What makes a planning application controversial? Often, it is the number of objections.

Planning and Development Committee. The Committee does not have to follow the planning officer's recommendation so long as its decisions are based on "material planning considerations," supported by adequate evidence. Since Committee members are democratically elected, they may be more appreciative of your concerns than planners, who are technical specialists. You should be able to find out how your Committee operates on the planning section of the District website. Tip - always copy letters of objection to the District Councillors for your Ward.

Parish and Town Councils. Your parish/town council is a statutory consultee. This means the planning authority must consult with them, although, unless the Parish/Town has a Neighbourhood Plan, it can disregard their recommendation.

Material Planning Considerations. Planners operate within a legal framework that sets out the reasons (material planning considerations) for making planning decisions. Objections and decisions must be based on material planning considerations, supported by evidence, in order to withstand appeal. Here is a good list of material planning considerations, but it is not comprehensive. It omits, for example, heritage assets (see below).

Jargon Buster. Like any speciality, planning has its own language. If you come across an unfamiliar term, a good starting point is this jargon buster fact sheet produced by Planning Aid.

Getting started. If you are new to analysing the merits or demerits of a planning application, start with CPRE's eight step guide: How to Respond to a Planning Application. Tip - read the application and its associated documents sceptically. The developer is not there to make your case - provide alternative information if you consider that the developer's facts are incorrect.

Evidence Base. All planning decisions in individual cases, and planning policies must be based on evidence. If you are commenting about an application, provide facts to support your conclusions. For instance, if you object based on a proposal's design, explain why the design is unsympathetic to its setting.

Listed Buildings. Designated by Historic England. Section 66 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, protection extends not just to buildings but also to their settings, which is a broader concept than the land on which they are situated. Planning authorities must have "special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting or any features of special architectural or historic interest which it possesses." Not sure whether a building is listed? - check Historic England's on-line database.

Heritage Assets. These can be designated (listed buildings and conservation areas) and non-designated (see below). Both the National Planning Policy Framework and Local Development Frameworks -- see below -- have policies protecting heritage assets that incorporate the statutory duties created by Sections 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Note that protection applies not just to a building, but also to its setting.

Heritage Asset Setting. For more information go to Historic England Good Practice Advice Note 3 - The Setting of Heritage Assets. Setting embraces all of the surroundings (land, sea, structures, features and skyline) from which the heritage asset can be experienced or that can be experienced from or with the asset. Although its extent and importance is often expressed by reference to visual considerations, setting also relates to spatial associations and our understanding of the historic relationship between places. The contribution that setting makes to significance does not depend on public access. Views on what comprises a heritage asset's setting may change as the asset and its surroundings evolve, or as the asset becomes better understood

Non-designated Heritage Assets/Locally Listed buildings. These terms are used interchangeably to describe buildings and monuments that are not listed but can be afforded some protection due to their local significance. Local listing is often an ad hoc process that occurs through the planning application process or when demolition is proposed. Alternatively District authorities can create district wide local lists but more often identifying non-designated heritage assets will be identified at a community level as systematic project perhaps carried out as part of the Neighbourhood Planning process.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). National planning policy is contained in the NPPF, published in March 2012. The NPPF creates a presumption in favour of sustainable development. For development to be sustainable, it must be consistent with the 12 planning principles set out in the NPPF. The NPPF is a good read - it really is written in ordinary English! -- and it contains much that can help prevent inappropriate development.

Local Development Framework (LDF). Every District has the equivalent of the NPPF except that the content is contained in a number of documents that have been adopted over time, or are still work in progress. The Local Development Framework is the name for the totality of documents. They contain a wealth of information that can be mined in your quest for policies, guidance, and evidence to oppose or promote a development. Waveney District Council has produced a useful publication explaining the LDF format.

Core Strategy. The most important LDF document is the Core Strategy. Each District has or is working towards one. It lays out what is important to the District, and the vision for where the District wants to be in 15-20 years time. Select our Local Plans page to access these.

Development Management Policies. These are detailed local planning policies. They cover a host of issues, from where development will be allowed to protection for biodiversity, open space, heritage assets. Tip - understand what you believe to be right or wrong about an application and then fit your issue into a development management policy.

Site Specific Allocations Development Plan Document. This is part of the LDF and helps to promote implementation of the Core Strategy by directing development to different parts of a District. Developers can propose sites not included in the SSADPD but if a site has been proposed and rejected, they may have difficulty showing that the site is consistent with the Core Strategy without a change of circumstance.

If you have any additional resources, please email them to us and we will add them to this page. Alternatively, you could post additional information below in the comments.