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

Advertisement control

The application type used to get permission for advertisements.



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 a 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. 


Area Visions

A set of policies that provide the strategic vision for the future of Southwark’s distinct places and neighbourhoods. They set out infrastructure improvements, opportunities for improved public spaces, transport improvements and growth opportunities for new homes and jobs. Area Visions also identify the character of different places to be renewed, retained or enhanced.


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

Authority Monitoring Report

An annual report on the performance of the council’s planning policy.

View Southwark’s Authority Monitoring Reports


The Cabinet is made up of a Leader, a Deputy Leader and up to 10 councillors appointed by the Leader. Each member holds a special portfolio of responsibility. The Cabinet meetings are open to the public.


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 floorspace, 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.

Council assembly

The council assembly is the meeting of all 63 elected councillors sitting on the council. It’s chaired by the Mayor of Southwark.



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'.  

Development Plan Documents

The statutory parts of the local development framework. This includes core strategies, area action plans, and site-specific allocations.



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 that 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'. 


Lawful Development Certificate (LDC)

A certificate issued by a local planning authority stating that an existing or proposed use is considered lawful for planning purposes.


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 Development Framework

A collection of planning documents that deliver the spatial planning strategy and policies for the local area.


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. 


London Plan

The Mayor of London is responsible for producing a new planning strategy for the capital. The London Plan is the name given to the Mayor’s spatial development strategy.

View the London Plan website

Major development

Development of 10 or more homes, or over 1000 sqm commercial floorspace.


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.


Minor development

Development of less than 10 homes, or less than 1000 sqm commercial floorspace.


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. 

Neighbourhood Plan

A plan prepared by a Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum for a particular neighbourhood area (made under the Planning and  Compulsory Purchase Act 2004).

Find out more about Neighbourhood Plans in Southwark

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 breach

Works done without planning permission or that do not comply with the details of a permission.

Find out more about Southwark's planning enforcement process

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 Sector Equality Duty (PSED) 

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) contained in Section 149 (1) of the Equality Act 2010 imposes a duty on public authorities to promote equality in the exercise of their functions.

Find out more about the Public Sector Equality Duty on the government's website

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. 


Reserved matters 

These matters relate to outline planning applications. They can be submitted after outline planning permission has already been granted.


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. 


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

Site allocations

Planning policies that apply to key potential development sites of strategic importance. They set out the land uses that must be provided as part of any redevelopment. They also set out other acceptable land uses that may be provided in addition to the required land uses.


Site plan

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


Southwark Plan (2022)

This is our Local Plan, which is the plan for all future development in the borough. We have produced this document in consultation with the community.

Find out more about the Southwark Plan

Strategic development

Development for 50 or more homes, or over 3500 sqm of commercial floorspace.


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.

Supplementary Planning Documents (SPD)

A planning policy document that provides more detailed advice on policies adopted in the local plan.

View a list of our Supplementary Planning Documents

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.


Validation requirement

A document or piece of evidence that must be submitted with a planning application.


Variation of conditions

An application to remove or change a condition relating to a planning permission.


Page last updated: 21 November 2023


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