Planning Glossary

You can view a glossary of commonly used planning terms and guidance about how these terms are used in the table below.



Further guidance


A person or business that acts on behalf of an applicant. 


Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)

An area where the local air quality is unlikely to meet the government's national air quality objectives.



In planning terms, 'amenity' is often used to refer to the quality or character of an property or area, and elements that contribute to the overall enjoyment of a property or area.

When we refer to 'neighbour amenity' we usually mean a neighbour's right to privacy, outlook, and access to sunlight. 

Find more information about amenity in Southwark's Residential Design Standards SPD


If an applicant disagrees with the Local Planning Authority’s decision, they can challenge it by appealing to the Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate are independent from the local authority. This means they will carry out their own assessment and will allow or dismiss the appeal.

If the appeal is allowed, then planning permission is granted.


If the appeal is dismissed, then planning permission is refused.


The person who submits a planning application. This is usually the person who owns the property or the site.



All the forms, plans and supporting information that you send to us when you apply for planning permission. 


Article 4 Direction

A sets of rules that apply to a specific area or building type that removes certain types of Permitted Development. 

View details about Article 4 Directions in Southwark.

Central Activities Zone (CAZ)

The Central Activities Zone (CAZ) is London's vibrant centre and one of the world's most attractive and competitive business locations. It contains the seat of national government and is renowned worldwide for its shopping, culture and heritage. The CAZ covers a small area in the north of Southwark. 


Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a charge placed on certain types of development. The charge is spent on supporting local infrastructure.

CIL usually applies to developments of over 100sqm of new residential floor space, or 1000sqm of new commercial floorspace.

View details about the Community Infrastructure Levy in Southwark.

Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ)

An area where parking is only allowed on certain parts of the road for a limited time unless you have a permit.



Conditions are rules that you need to follow when you are given planning permission.

Conditions can apply before works begin, during the works, or after the works are completed.

Sometimes you will need to send evidence to the council to prove you have followed the condition rules. This process is known as 'discharging' a condition.

Conditions are set out in the decision notice.

Conservation  Area

An area designated for its historic value. Constraints on development might apply in these special areas. 

View details about Southwark's Conservation Areas.


A restriction on development due to the site being located in a certain area, or the building itself being designated for protection. Details of the constraint are set out in the relevant planning policy. 

View our planning FAQs for more information.


An area of land surrounding a house, which forms one enclosure with that house. This usually means the house itself and any gardens to the front, side or rear. This also includes any outbuildings such as sheds.



The formal determination of an application to either grant or refuse planning permission.

The decision is usually published in the form of a decision notice.

The decision may include conditions on development. 

All decision notices are published on the Planning Register

Decision codes

The abbreviation of a decision made on an application.

The code is based on the type of application and on the decision to grant or refuse permission.

You might see these codes on the Planning Register. 

View the full list of Decision Codes.


Most building and engineering works, and some changes of building use. 

View Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for the legal definition of 'development'.  


The formal planning term used for a residential house.


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

A process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts. An EIA is required for specific application types listed in the the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

View government guidance on Environmental Impact Assessments (external website)

Elevation drawing

A drawing of a building seen from one side. It is a two dimensional, flat representation of one side of the building.


Flood Risk Zone

An area identified as being at risk of flooding.

Flood risk can be:

  • 'fluvial' (from watercourses or rivers)

  • 'surface water' (from rainwater)

  • 'ground water' (from the ground).

Fluvial flooding is zoned from Zone 1 (low risk) to Zone 3 (high risk). Surface and ground water flood risk is graded as 'low', 'medium' or 'high'.

View the Flood Map for Planning to see if an area is affected by flooding and read more about flood risk management in Southwark. 

Flood Risk Assessment (FRA)

A document which includes information about the risk of flooding and what steps have been considered to reduce the risk of flooding to a site and its surroundings.


Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS)

A voluntary accreditation scheme designed to help fleet operators improve fleet standards within their organisation. Rated from Bronze Accreditation (lowest) to Gold Accreditation (best). 


Geographic Information System (GIS)

A digital mapping system with information on planning policies and constraints.

View Southwark Maps for an example of how GIS is used in Southwark. 

Gross internal area (GIA)

The enclosed area of a building within the external walls taking each floor into account, but excluding the thickness of the external walls.


Gross external area (GEA)

The whole area of the building, including external walls.


In lieu

This means 'in place of' or 'instead of'. 


Listed Building

A building, structure or wall that has historic value and interest will be graded as either Listed, Grade I, Grade II or Grade II*. This grade is used to protect it and its historic value. 

View more information about Southwark's Listed Buildings.

Local Plan

The plan for future development in Southwark which sets out planning policies that planning applications are assessed against. Developments must comply with these policies in order to be granted planning permission.

The Local Plan also identifies areas in the borough prioritised for housing, employment and other uses.

Read more about Southwark's Local Plan.

Local Planning Authority (LPA)

The authority responsible for decisions on planning matters. Southwark Council is the LPA for the London Borough of Southwark. 


Material considerations

Matters that an LPA must take into account when determining a planning application. 

View guidance on Material considerations on the Planning Portal website.

Minor amendment

Small changes to the originally permitted scheme, for example works that do not materially impact upon neighbouring properties.


National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

National planning policy and guidance produced by the government. All Local Plan documents must be in broad compliance with the NPPF. 

View the NPPF on the Government website. 

Ownership certificate

Forms part of the planning application form. The applicant must choose only one of four options: Certificate A, B, C or D. An ‘owner’ is anyone with a freehold interest, or leasehold interest of 7 years or more remaining. 


Permitted Development

Allows certain types of development to be carried out without  planning permission from the council. 

View our Planning FAQs for more guidance about Permitted Development. 

Planning Committee

A committee of local authority councillors that meet to determine planning applications.

Advice is usually given to the committee by planning officers who provide a recommendation for approval or refusal.

Applications sent to the committee are usually large or complex.

View details about Southwark's Planning Committee.

Planning history

The history of any planning applications made for a specific site, building or area. Planning records date back to 1 July 1948. All planning applications are recorded and stored at the council offices and available online via Southwark's Planning Register.


Planning policy

These are either national, regional or local policies. Local policies may apply to the entire borough or just certain areas or buildings. The policies are used to inform the assessment of a planning application and all development must comply with these policies. 

For national policy view the National Planning Policy Framework. For regional policy view the London Plan. For local policy, view Southwark's Local Plan.

Planning Portal

An external website providing planning guidance and where you can submit an online planning application. 

Access the Planning Portal website (external website).


Description of proposed works. 


Public transport accessibility level (PTAL)

A method sometimes used in United Kingdom transport planning to assess the access level of geographical areas to public transport. It's scored from 1 (lowest level of access to public transport) to 6 (highest level of access to public transport). 

Transport for London (TfL) provides an interactive PTAL map for London (external website)


Anyone can comment on a planning application or on a policy document during the consultation process. These comments are sometimes called representations. 


Section drawing

A section drawing shows a vertical cut through a building or an area of a building. The purpose of a section is to show the inside of the building including floor to ceiling heights.


Section 106 agreement

A legal document setting out terms of implementation of a development and a schedule of fees to be paid on completion of the development. This agreement usually only applies to major developments. 

View council guidance about Section 106 Agreements

Scale bars

Required on all plans. The bar must be a recognised scale of 1:20, 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500, 1:1250 or 1:2500. The scale bar will show distances in metres. 


Site plan

A scaled map showing the application site (outlined in red) and the surrounding area. 


Sui generis use

Property or land uses that do not fall within any particular use class.

View the Planning Portal guide on the use class order for further information.

Use class

Different 'uses' for a building or land are grouped by 'classes'.

For example, all business uses are grouped in one class. 

All uses are listed in the Use Class Order (external website)

View the Planning Portal guide on the use class order for further information.


The process of checking an application is complete. Once an application is confirmed to be valid, it proceeds to a planning officer for assessment.



Page last updated: 12 August 2022

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