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Planning glossary

To fully understand how the plan making system works in England, it is important that a range of terms are understood. This page explains many of these terms.

Adopted Plan

If a plan has been adopted, it means that it has been approved in its final form by the council, and will go on to form part of the council’s Local Development Framework. If a planning document is in development, this means the final version has not yet been approved by the council.

Affordable houses

Housing is termed affordable if it is subsidised in some way for people unable to rent or buy on the open housing market. The definition includes housing for key workers and shared ownership homes and the ‘build your own affordable home’ scheme for low cost home ownership (also see ‘local needs affordable housing’). The formal definition is found in Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing as follows: “Affordable housing includes social rented and intermediate housing, provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Affordable housing should: meet the needs of eligible households including availability at a cost low enough for them to afford, determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices; and include provision for the home to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or, if these restrictions are lifted, for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.”

Alternative sites

These are sites that could come forward instead of the preferred options presented in the SAMDev consultation document in order to meet the growth aspirations of settlements. In a number of cases, the council may have already assessed the suitability of alternative sites during the preparation of the SAMDev Plan preferred options. The SAMDev preferred options consultation will allow the public and site promoters to re-submit sites which have not been preferred with new information, as well as submitting new sites into the process.

Commitments and Completions

A ‘commitment’ is where a proposal has already been granted planning permission since 2006 but has not yet been built, or where there is an existing allocated site from the previous plan which has yet to receive planning permission. A ‘completion’ is where a development has already been built since 2006. As both the core strategy and the SAMDev Plan have a start date of 2006 it is important that both ‘commitments’ and ‘completions’ are taken into account in the setting an overall target for market towns and key centres. For instance, if a settlement is planning to accommodate 500 dwellings between 2006 and 2026, and there is existing commitments of 200 dwellings, the SAMDev Plan will only need to find a further 300 dwellings to meet this need up to 2026. For community hubs and community clusters a forward looking level of growth will be established in the SAMDev Plan rather than from the start of the plan period.

Community hubs

A community hub is a rural settlement, usually a large village, where some further development will be planned for up to 2026. Community hubs will be identified in the SAMDev Plan only where the local parish council has put the settlement forward. In community hubs, the scale and type of growth required, as well as the location of any new development, is also being prepared in partnership with parish councils and the local community, and will be identified in the SAMDev Plan.

Community clusters

A community cluster is a group of (two or more) rural settlements, where some further development will be planned for up to 2026. In combination, the settlements within the community cluster will offer a range of services contributing to a sustainable community. Community clusters will be identified in the SAMDev Plan only where the local parish council has put the settlement forward. The scale and type of growth required, as well as the location of any new development, is also being prepared in partnership with parish councils and the local community, and will be identified in the SAMDev Plan.

Development boundary

A boundary around a town or village within which development will normally be permitted. Generally speaking, development proposals for new housing development outside a defined development boundary will not be considered appropriate by the council. As part of the SAMDev preferred options document, the council is consulting on potential changes to the development boundaries for some settlements.

Development Plan Documents (DPDs)

For now, the statutory planning documents prepared by the council are to be called development plan documents. They include policies which planning applications can be assessed against, and they can indicate where potential sites for future development are to be located.

Employment Land

This is land specifically allocated for future employment use. Employment can mean a range of commercial development including offices, warehouses and industrial premises. The adopted Core Strategy has identified a need for Shropshire to find around 290 hectares of employment land in Shropshire between 2006 and 2026. The SAMDev Plan will allocate land for employment uses in settlements in order to meet this need. When a site is allocated for future employment use, the SAMDev Plan will specify what kind of employment use will be appropriate on the site, i.e. office or industrial or a mix of both.

Final Plan

A Final Plan is prepared by the council following the Preferred Options stage but before the Plan is submitted to the Government. It will include changes made in response to consultation comments at the Preferred Options stage. The public will be invited to make further representations on the Final Plan to indicate whether they think the Plan is ‘sound’ or ‘unsound’. The Council then has the opportunity to make minor changes to the Final Plan before it is submitted to the Government for independent examination.

Flood zones

The flood zones identify the probability of flooding from rivers (and the sea). The High probability zone comprises land as having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding (1%). The Medium probability zone comprises land as having between a 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 annual probability of river flooding (1%- 0.1%). These flood zones ignore the presence of any existing flood defences , since defences can be ‘overtopped’ if a flood occurs which is higher than the defences are designed to withstand. The zones provide a good indication of the areas at risk of flooding in England and Wales but they do not provide detailed information on the level of risk to individual properties. Flood zone data is produced by the Environment Agency and is updated and published quarterly on their website:

Growth target

The adopted core strategy has set an overall target for the level of growth for new development in Shropshire of around 27,500 dwellings and around 290 hectares of employment land between 2006 and 2026. Shrewsbury will take around 6,500 dwellings and 90 hectares of employment land as part of this overall growth target. The SAMDev Plan will identify more precisely where the rest of this growth will take place and will set levels of growth for the 17 Market Towns and Key Centres and for each of the identified Community Hubs and Community Clusters.

Habitat Regulation Assessment (Appropriate Assessment)

The purpose of a Habitat Regulation Assessment (HRA) is to assess the impacts a local development document will have on a range of European designated sites. As of October 2006, all councils must decide if they need to carry out an HRA on the local development documents they produce.

Hectare (ha)

A hectare is the most common definition of area used in planning. One hectare is 10,000 square metres (the football pitch at Wembley stadium is 7,140 sq. metres). A hectare is equivalent to 2.47 acres.

Infill sites

Infill development is usually small scale housing development (normally 1-5 dwellings) on sites within the main built area of a settlement. In planning the growth of settlements, the council will factor in the potential for infill development over the plan period, but these sites will not be allocated in the plan.

Local Development Framework (LDF)

The simplest way to think of an LDF is as a filing cabinet. The LDF is filled with files or documents called local development documents, which review the important issues for the area, and include a set of polices to guide future development and set land for new development.

Low-density housing

This is where a housing scheme incorporates fewer dwellings per hectare than the average for that settlement. As a rule of thumb in an urban area, it is normal for a site to accommodate around 30 dwellings per hectare. Proposals for lower density housing schemes could be to mitigate a specific local constraint, e.g. access or landscape impact.

Management of development policies

These are policies which the council will use in determining planning applications. Some policies relate to all kinds of development, whilst others are specific either to a type of development or to an area of the county, e.g. the rural area.

Market towns and key centres

The core strategy has identified 17 market towns and key centres in Shropshire. These settlements have been identified not simply on their size, but on the role they each play in contributing to the needs of the wider area, for instance by providing a range of services such as retail, leisure, health, education, fire and police. The SAMDev will identify the scale and location of growth to be accommodated in each market town and key centre up to 2026.

Place plan

Place plans identify the local priorities and infrastructure requirements for each of Shropshire's communities. They are being developed by Shropshire Council in partnership with local communities, parish and town councils and local infrastructure and service providers. Each plan is based around one of Shropshire's 18 market towns or key centres and its surrounding rural hinterland.

Plan period

The period of time covered by the plan. For Shropshire the plan period for the core strategy and SAMDev is from 2006 to 2026.

Preferred Options

A ‘Preferred options’ document is prepared after the council has considered all the alternative development options for a settlement, taken on board community views, and has come to a decision on what it sees as the preferred option(s) for particular areas. Preferred options could be on a range of issues from the scale of growth for a settlement, the location of a site allocation, or the extent of a development boundary. The preferred options document is always subject to further public consultation. If required, the preferred options can be changed before it reaches the final plan stage.

Proposals map

This is the base map which will show the sites proposed for development in development plan documents.

Reserve site(s)

Reserve sites are not allocations for development. However, in recognising that there can sometimes be difficulties experienced in delivering housing sites, for instance because of infrastructure costs associated with development, it is sometimes appropriate for a plan to identify a reserve site(s) to come forward instead of allocated sites to ensure that sufficient numbers of housing are built over the plan period. It is only expected that reserve sites will be identified for larger towns, such as Shrewsbury, where it is particularly important that allowances are made for complexities involved in developing sites and large numbers of houses.

SAMDev Plan

The SAMDev Plan is the Site Allocations and Management of Development Plan. This is the plan which will allocate areas of land for future development in Shropshire (excluding Telford and Wrekin). It will also contain new management of development policies which will be used in determining future planning applications. The SAMDev is currently being prepared and it scheduled to be adopted in 2013.

Site allocations

Site allocations are areas of land designated by Shropshire Council for future development and for a particular use, e.g. new housing or employment. Development on allocated sites will still require the grant of full planning permission for development to be considered acceptable. The SAMDev Plan will show the extent of site allocations and for what use and scale they are allocated for.

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs)

SPDs give further clarification and guidance on policies contained in the development plan documents, and can cover a wide variety of issues.

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

All local development documents need to include a separate document called a Sustainability Appraisal. This tests the policies and proposals contained in the development documents against how well they perform against a range of environmental, economic and social issues. All sustainability appraisals need to include the requirements of a European directive called Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Windfall Development / Windfall Allowance

‘Windfall’ development is development which has not specifically been allocated by the Council, but comes forward as a development opportunity during the lifetime of the plan. For instance, it could be the re-use of a redundant building for new dwellings. The Council cannot predict where or when windfall development opportunities will arise, and therefore there is usually some flexibility left in plans to cater for these circumstances; this is known as a ‘windfall allowance’. The amount of windfall allowance set aside will be judged on a settlement by settlement basis. Where they arise, windfall development opportunities will be judged on their merits based upon the policies of the Core Strategy and the SAMDev Plan when it is adopted, and any other locally relevant policies in neighbourhood or parish plans.


Planning Policy
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Last updated: 28 February 2014 Print this page

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