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Glossary of planning terms and abbreviations

Use this glossary of definitions and planning terms to support you in understanding the Local Plan Options Document. If you want to explore the local context more, we've also included links to projects, policy and programmes in B&NES, as well as national regulations and guidance, where appropriate. 

Use the alphabetical headings below to choose a section, then click on any term to view its description.

A to B    C to F    G to H    I to M    N to R    S    T to Z

Active frontage

Making frontages ‘active’ adds interest, life and vitality to the public realm. This can mean:

frequent doors and windows

few blank walls; articulation of facades, with projections such as bays and porches incorporated, providing a welcoming feel, and on occasion, lively internal uses visible from the outside, or spilling onto the street.

Active Ground Floor Use

Active ground floor uses are generally considered uses that attract pedestrian activity and provide direct access to the general public, for example shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, travel agencies, banks are active uses. Residential uses and offices would not normally be considered as active uses for ground floors (but could contribute to the active frontage by having a front door to a residential or office use on upper floors).

Active Travel

Active Travel refers to modes of travel that involve a level of physical activity. The term is often used interchangeably with walking and cycling, or “walking and wheeling”, but active travel can also include trips made by wheelchair, mobility scooters, adapted cycles, e-cycles, scooters, cycle sharing schemes and horse riding.

Find out what we're doing about Active Travel

Affordable Housing (AH)

See NPPF definition linked here.

Affordable Private Rent (APR)

Homes let at least 20% below local market rents.

Air Quality Management Area (AQMA)

An area where levels of pollution and air quality might not meet national air quality objectives.

Find out what we're doing about Air Quality Management

Bath to Bristol A4 corridor

Land located along the A4 road between Bath and Bristol.


The whole variety of life, including genetic, species and ecosystem variations.

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

Biodiversity Net Gain is an approach to development which means that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were in before the development occurred.

Find out more about what Biodiversity Net Gain means for development proposals and planning applications

BREEAM assessment

Evaluates the procurement, design, construction, and operation of a development against a range of targets based on performance benchmarks. It focuses on sustainable value across a range of categories: Energy, Land use and ecology. "BREEAM" stands for "Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology." BREEAM accreditation is administered by its parent company, Building Research Establishment (BRE). It is the oldest method of assessing, rating, and certifying a building's environmental sustainability.

Brownfield or PDL (previously developed land)

Land which has had a development on it before; often brownfield sites are ex-industrial, and later converted to housing.

Build to Rent (BtR)

Purpose-built housing that is typically 100% rented out.


C to F

Clean Air Zone (CAZ)

A city central area where there may be a charge to enter with certain commercial or high emission vehicles.

Find out more about Bath's Clean Air Zone

Co-living Schemes

Purpose-built residential schemes, that often comprise studio bedspaces with access to shared communal facilities.

Community facilities

A facility to be used by the community (such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship).

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

A levy that we charge on new developments in the area. The money is used to support development by funding infrastructure.

Find out more about how CIL works, and how we allocate funds for local facilities

Conservation Area

An area designated by a Local Planning Authority for preservation and enhancement due to the special architectural of historic interest of its buildings and their settings.

Find our local conservation areas and find out how they are protected

Demand Responsive Transport (DRT)

Demand Responsive Transport is a flexible service that provides shared transport to communities. In the context of the West of England, this relates to the WESTLink public transport service, which operates within zones and on-demand, rather than on fixed routes with fixed time tables.

Development Management

That part of the planning process that deals with planning applications.

Development Plan

Our Development Plan is made up of a series of documents that are the starting point for all local Planning decisions. They comprise B&NES-specific plans: The Core Strategy, Placemaking Plan and Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU), joint regional plans which cover the West of England region, and more local documents created by individual parishes (Neighbourhood Plans).

Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES)

MEES Regulations set a minimum energy efficiency level for domestic private rented properties.


A legal requirement on local planning authorities to engage with other relevant authorities and bodies constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis for strategic planning matters.

View our Duty-to-Cooperate Statement for this Local Plan

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

An assessment of how energy efficient a building is.

Extra Care Housing (ECH)

Purpose-built homes, normally groups of flats, for residents who have, or expect in the future to have, care needs. ECH developments normally have a care team and a number of communal facilities on site.


G to H

Green and Blue Infrastructure

A network of multi-functional green (land-based) and blue (water-based) spaces and other natural features, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic, health and wellbeing benefits for nature, climate, and communities.

Find out more about our work on Green Infrastructure, and view a map of Green Infrastructure in B&NES

Green Belt

Areas of land where development is particularly tightly controlled. The purposes of Green Belt are to:

  • check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
  • prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
  • assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
  • preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
  • assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

View a map of Green Belt designated land in B&NES

Greenfield Land

Land (or a defined site) usually farmland, that has not previously been developed. This should not be confused with Green Belt, which is a specific designation.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

A practical tool which is used to assess the potential health impacts of a policy, programme or project on a population. HIAs are used to maximise positive health effects and minimise and mitigate any possible negative health impacts. A HIA helps decision-makers in local authorities and other stakeholders make choices and actions to prevent ill health, promote good health and reduce health inequalities.

Heritage Action Zone (HAZ)

High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme, which is being delivered by Historic England, will unlock the potential of more than 60 high streets across England, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery.

Learn about our High Street Heritage Action Zones in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton

Heritage Assets

A building, monument, site, place, area or landscape positively identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions.

Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA)

A document that outlines the historic or archaeological significance of a building or landscape within its wider setting. It includes an outline of any proposed works, an assessment of their impact on the building or landscape and a mitigation strategy.

House in multiple occupation (HMO)

A house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It’s sometimes called a ‘house share’.

Learn more about regulations around HMOs

Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA)

The HELAA is a technical document that helps to identify a supply of potentially suitable sites for housing or economic use and is used to inform planning policies. It is not a decision-making document and the inclusion of sites in a HELAA should not be seen as an intention to allocate these sites for development, or that planning permission will be granted.

View the draft HELAA documents submitted as part of the Evidence Base for this consultation

Learn more about the HELAA process and the call for sites in B&NES

Housing Development Boundary (HDB)

The boundary which defines that part of certain settlements within which the principle of residential development will usually be acceptable subject to compliance with policies in the Development Plan and other material considerations.

View a map of Housing Development Boundaries of settlements in B&NES


I to M


Facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools and hospitals.

Liveable Neighbourhoods

Residential areas in cities and towns are often used by through-traffic, which creates noise, pollution and hazards. By reducing the dominance of vehicles, Liveable Neighbourhoods reconsider how street space is reallocated, creating healthier outdoor spaces for everyone to share, as well as vibrant places where people want to dwell and spend money. Liveable Neighbourhoods reduce car dependency by transforming streets into safer, more attractive spaces where everyday needs can be met locally and where people travelling actively and by public transport are prioritised.

Learn more about our Liveable Neighbourhoods programme

Local Development Order (LDO)

Local Development Orders are made by local planning authorities and give a grant of planning permission to specific types of development within a defined area. They streamline the planning process by removing the need for developers to make a planning application to a local planning authority. They create certainty and save time and money for those involved in the planning process.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

Rates are used to calculate Housing Benefit for tenants renting from private landlords.

Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS)

An England-wide system of spatial strategies that will establish priorities and map proposals for specific actions to drive nature’s recovery and provide wider environmental benefits.

Find out more about the WECA LNRS

Local Planning Authority (LPA)

As a local planning authority, we are the local government body that is empowered by law to exercise urban planning functions within the council’s boundary area

Main town centre uses

See NPPF definition linked here.


There is no fixed definition of micromobility, but it is generally used as a term to define types of vehicles that are small (or under a certain weight). For example, some commentators define micromobility as a vehicle under 500kg. Examples include bicycles and scooters. Most vehicles that fit into the micromobility definition are designed to carry a single person, however others, for example cargo cycles can carry multiple people or goods. It can include motor powered or assisted modes such as e-bikes or e-scooters, as well as self-propelled vehicles such as bicycles or skateboards.


Extra measures that may be necessary to lessen any harmful impacts of a development. These might include things which limit noise or light pollution, or compensate for environment loss.

Mobility Hub

Mobility hubs are spaces where public, shared and active travel modes are co-located alongside improvements to the public realm. They enable travellers to make smooth and safe transfers between different modes, swapping private cars for shared vehicles, bikes, buses, trains, scooters or walking.

Modal Filter

A modal filter is any measure, at a single point in a road, that allows the passage of some modes of transport but not others. One common type of modal filter allows walking, cycling and emergency vehicles to pass through, but stops other types of motor traffic at that point. Types of modal filter include a bollard, planter, gate, banned turns, cycleway filter, bus gate and cameras / enforcement. Modal filters offer the opportunity to significantly enhance the quality of the walking and cycling environment on both the street that is being filtered and adjacent roads.

Learn more about the role that modal filters can play in developing liveable neighbourhoods


N to R

National Cycle Network (NCN)

The National Cycle Network is a UK-wide network of signed paths and routes for walking, wheeling, cycling and exploring outdoors.

National Landscapes

Formally known as AONBs or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Landscape designations have the highest degree of landscape protection.

View our National Landscapes on a map

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

A legal framework which sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be implemented.

National Planning Policy Guidance (PPG)

Government guidance for England intended to assist practitioners. Ultimately the interpretation of legislation is for the Courts, but this guidance is an indication of the Secretary of State’s views.

Nationally described residential space standard (NDSS)

The national minimum space standard deals with internal space within new dwellings and is suitable for application across all tenures. It sets out requirements for the gross internal floor area of new dwellings at a defined level of occupancy as well as floor areas and dimensions for key parts of the home, notably bedrooms, storage and floor to ceiling height. However, these can only be applied where there is a local plan policy based on evidenced local need and where the viability of the development is not compromised.

Policies Map

A map illustrating the policies and proposals within a Local Plan.

View our interactive planning policies map

Primary Shopping Area

Defined area where retail development is concentrated (generally comprising the primary and those secondary frontages which are adjoining and closely related to the primary shopping frontage).

Public Right of Way (PROW)

A public right of way is a right by which the public can pass along linear routes over land at all times. Although the land may be owned by a private individual, the public have a legal right across that land along a specific route.

Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA)

Accommodation built, or converted, with the specific intention of being occupied by students.

Quiet Lane

Quiet Lanes are defined as minor rural roads or networks of minor rural roads appropriate for shared use by walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other vehicles.

Ramsar Site

Wetlands of international importance, designated under the 1971 Ramsar Convention.

Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Study (RERAS)

An evidence base study that assesses the technical potential for renewable, low and zero carbon energy technologies at different scales and in different locations.


Making refurbishments or changes to a property after its construction; often retrofitting is for the purpose of becoming more energy efficient.

View our Supplementary Planning Document on retrofitting for energy efficiency and sustainability

Rural Exception Site

Small sites used for affordable housing in perpetuity, where sites would not normally be used for housing.



Scheduled Ancient Monument

A scheduled monument is a nationally important and protected archaeological site or historic building.

View a map of scheduled monuments in B&NES

Sites of Specific Scientific interest (SSSI)

A conservation designation of national importance, identifying the country's very best wildlife and geological sites.

View a map of SSSIs in B&NES

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)

This sets out the processes to be used by the local authority in involving the community in the preparation, alteration and continuing review of all local development documents and development control decisions.

View our Statement of Community Involvement for this Local Plan

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA)

The SFRA is a high-level assessment of the flood risk and provides essential information for the allocation of land for development and the control of development in order to limit flood risk to people and property where possible and manage it elsewhere.

Learn more about how we're working to reduce flood risk in B&NES

Strategic Sites

Sites that have been identified as having strategic importance in implementing the Local Plan.

Sui generis

In a class by itself or unique. Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered ‘sui generis’, such as betting offices/shops, theatres, houses in multiple occupation, scrap yards, petrol filling stations and retail warehouse clubs.

Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

Supporting document providing further guidance on specific policy topic areas.

View our SPD library

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)/Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

A systematic and iterative appraisal process, incorporating the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive. The purpose of sustainability appraisal is to appraise the social, environmental and economic effects of the strategies and policies in a local development document from the outset of the preparation process. This will ensure that decisions are made that accord with sustainable development.

Sustainable Transport

Any efficient, safe and accessible means of transport with overall low impact on the environment, including walking and cycling, low and ultra-low emission vehicles, car sharing and public transport.

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS)

SuDS re-create the benefits of natural drainage systems and collect, store, slow and treat the quality of surface water to mitigate the impacts of development on run-off rates, volumes and quality. SuDS also have multiple benefits, such as enhancing biodiversity and creating amenity space with health and well-being benefits.


T to Z

Town centre

See NPPF definition linked here.

Tree canopy cover

The layer of leaves, branches, and tree stems that cover the ground when viewed from above.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)

A Tree Preservation Order is an order made by a local planning authority in England to protect specific trees, groups of trees or woodlands in the interests of amenity. A preserved tree may not be topped, lopped, or felled without the consent of the local planning authority.

Urban Greening Factor (UGF)

The Urban Greening Factor (UGF) is a planning tool to improve the provision of Green Infrastructure (GI) and increase the level of greening in urban environments.


A development is considered viable if, after taking account of all costs (e.g. policy requirements, regulatory costs and the cost and availability of development finance) the scheme provides a competitive return to the developer to ensure that development takes place and generates a land value sufficient to persuade the landowner to sell the land for the development proposed.

West of England Combined Authority (WECA)

WECA is made up of three of the councils in the region – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Visit the WECA website


An equivalent alternative to foot/pedestrian-based mobility. It includes wheeled mobilities such as manual, self- or assistant-propelled wheelchairs, including wheelchairs with power attachments or all-terrain attachments (such as the “Freewheel”), powered wheelchairs, mobility scooters (three and four-wheeled) and rollators, as well as Disabled people using cycles at walking speed.

Wildlife corridor

Strips of land (for example, along a hedgerow) conserved and managed for wildlife, usually linking more extensive wildlife habitats.

Windfall sites

Sites that have not been specifically identified as available in the Local Plan process.

World Heritage Site (WHS)

World Heritage Sites are places of cultural or natural significance which are considered to be of importance to all of the global community and designated by the World Heritage Convention (an organisation of UNESCO). The City of Bath is exceptional in having two UNESCO inscriptions. In 1987 it was inscribed for its Hot Springs, Roman archaeology, Georgian buildings and natural landscape setting. In 2021 a second inscription was received as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.

View the Bath World Heritage Site website

Written Ministerial Statements (WMS)

Written Ministerial Statements are a function of Parliament which has responsibility for administering the town and country planning system in England. Written Ministerial Statements often accompany significant announcements being made by government on a change of policy or legislation affecting the planning system.