2. Glossary


Affordable housing
This is defined in Chapter 3 at Policy 3.10 and paragraph 3.61 of the London Plan.

A positive element or elements that contribute to the overall character of an area, for example: open land, trees, historic buildings and how they relate to each other.

Architects Registration Board (ARB)
The ARB is an independent, public interest body that regulates architects to ensure that good standards within the profession are consistently maintained for the benefit of the public and architects alike. The term “architect” is protected by law, and only someone registered with the ARB is legally allowed to call themselves an architect.

The systematic study of past human life and culture by the recovery and examination of remaining material evidence, such as graves, buildings, tools, and pottery.

Archaeological Priority Area (APA)
APAs exist in areas where there is important known archaeological interest. They require developments to take extra care to ensure that they are not damaging potential heritage assets, but in the most part do not restrict development.

Article 4 direction
A planning direction removing some or all permitted development rights, for example within a conservation area or curtilage of a listed building. Article 4 directions are issued by local planning authorities.

Aspect (see also ‘outlook’)
A view as seen from a specific position within a development. In the context of small sites, we often use aspect to describe what one might see when looking out of a window. An aspect which takes in long views of trees, gardens or the street would be positive, whereas a view of a blank wall would be negative.


See section 33 of the SPD document.

The definition of a basement is where new floorspace is created with a finished floor level significantly below that of the external ground level. Basements can be completely, or partially, below ground: accommodation which is located on a sloping site where the ground level falls away still counts as such when there is a significant floor area below the external ground level.

The whole variety of life encompassing all genetics, species and ecosystem variations, including plants and animals.

Brownfield land
Both land and premises are included in this term, which refers to a site that has previously been used or developed and is not currently fully in use, although it may be partially occupied or utilised. It may also be vacant, derelict or contaminated. This excludes open spaces and land where the remains of previous use have blended into the landscape, or have been overtaken by nature conservation value or amenity use and cannot be regarded as requiring development.

Building Act 1984
The Building Act is the primary legislation under which the Building Regulations and other secondary legislation is made.

Building envelope
The external walls or roofs of an inhabited structure.

Building line
A broadly consistent line formed by the frontages of buildings along a street.

Building Regulations
Standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) publishes guidance called ‘Approved Documents’ which set out ways to meet the Building Regulations.

Building Research Establishment (BRE)
BRE is an independent, research-based consultancy, testing and training organisation, operating in the built environment and associated industries.

The perceived effect of the arrangement, volume and shape of a building group of buildings. Also called ‘massing.’


Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment was the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. In April 2011, the Design Council and CABE joined to become one organisation.

The ability of a site to accommodate new development.

The local, visual distinctiveness of a townscape, defined by patterns of development and the local culture in the form of the richness of materials, landscaping and types of architectural forms.

Community infrastructure Levy (CIL)
The Community Infrastructure Levy (the ‘levy’) is a charge which can be levied by local authorities on new development in their area. It is an important tool for local authorities to use to help them deliver the infrastructure needed to support development in their area.

Climate Emergency / Climate Crisis
Humanity is facing a crisis unprecedented in its history. A crisis that, unless immediately addressed, threatens to catapult us towards the destruction of all we hold dear, our planet’s ecosystems and the future of generations to come. See Lewisham’s website for more information on how the climate crisis is impacting the borough and what is being done about it.

Community Land Trust (CLT)
A Community Land Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that is made up of community members. CLTs are a way for communities to build, bring back into life or protect buildings and services that are important to them.

Conservation area
An area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. Conservation areas are very much part of the familiar and cherished local scene. It is the area as a whole rather than the specific buildings that is of special interest. Listed buildings within conservation areas are also covered by the listed building consent process.

The area normally within the boundaries of a property surrounding the main building and used in connection with it.


Daylight and sunlight assessment
A quantitative analysis of the levels of natural light which reach a space, whether it is an internal room or external garden or amenity area. These are usually carried out by specialist consultants based on a computer model of existing and proposed development.

The extent of ownership of a site, building or part of a building.

A measurement of the number of homes within a given area, usually expressed as dwellings per hectare (although sometimes as habitable rooms per hectare). London’s densities vary significantly, with Kensington & Chelsea’s overall density at over 80 dwellings per hectare, whereas Hillingdon’s is less than 20. Lewisham has a housing density of just over 40 dwellings per hectare.

Design quality
Good design ensures attractive, usable, durable and adaptable places and is a key element in achieving sustainable development.

A dwelling with more than one storey that is not a house, for example, a two-storey flat within a larger block. See also ‘maisonette’.


The lowest part of a roof structure; on a typical house usually the part to which gutters are fixed.

The façade or face of a building, or a drawing showing a flat view of one side of a building as seen from a perpendicular viewpoint.

Embodied energy
Embodied energy is the amount of resources consumed to produce a material. Production includes the growing or mining and processing of the natural resources and the manufacturing, transport and delivery of that material.

Energy efficiency
Making the best or most efficient use of energy in order to achieve a given output of goods or services, and of comfort and convenience. This does not necessitate the use of less energy, in which respect it differs from the concept of energy conservation.

Energy performance certificate (EPC)
An Energy Performance Certificate is a report that assesses the energy efficiency of a property and recommends specific ways in which the efficiency of your property could be improved. An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.


Family housing
Generally defined as a dwelling having three or more bedrooms. The term includes houses or flats.

Flood risk area (assessment)
An area of land which is subject to occasional flooding, either from rivers, sea surges, or rainwater. A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) assesses the likelihood of a site or property being damaged or disrupted by water from one of these sources.

The shape or configuration of a building.

Frontage (active) (primary/secondary)
The frontage of a building is the part of the building facing the public realm, often (but not exclusively) referring to the ground floor. An ‘active frontage’ might include windows or front doors; an ‘inactive frontage’ might consist of a blank wall. Generally, active frontages are encouraged in development because they bring life to a street, provide passive surveillance of public areas, and contribute to a positive experience for those passing by.


General permitted development Order (GDPO)
A government policy order outlining that certain limited or minor forms of development may proceed without the need to make an application for planning permission.

Grampian condition
A planning condition usually attached to a planning approval which requires work to be carried out outside the boundary of the site – usually on land which is not under the control of the applicant.

Green belt
National policy designations that help to contain development, protect the countryside and promote brownfield development, and assists in the urban renaissance. There is a general presumption against inappropriate development in the green belt.

Green / brown roofs
Planting on roofs or walls to provide climate change, amenity, biodiversity, food growing and recreational benefits. ‘Intensive’ green roofs are those which can be used for leisure activities, ‘extensive’ are those which are generally only accessed for maintenance. Brown roofs are roofs which have a layer of soil or other material which provides a habitat or growing medium for plants or wildlife.


Habitable rooms
Any room used or intended to be used for sleeping, cooking, living or eating purposes. Bathrooms, toilets, corridors, laundries, hallways, utility rooms or similar spaces are excluded from this definition.

Heritage assets
These are the valued components of the historic environment. They include buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes positively identified as having a degree of historic significance meriting consideration in planning decisions. They include both designated heritage assets and non-designated assets where these have been identified by the local authority (including local listing) during the process of decision making or plan making.

A publicly maintained road, together with footways and verges.

Historic environment
All aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time, including all surviving physical remains of past human activity, whether visible, buried or submerged, and landscaped and planted or managed flora. Those elements of the historic environment that hold significance are called heritage assets.

Houses of Multiple Occupancy (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’. HMOs are subject to licence which must be obtained from the local council.

Home zone
An area of street between dwellings which is designed to prioritise pedestrians, but which is also accessible to cars. Often there is no distinction made between the roadway and pavements in the design of floor finishes – what is known as a ‘shared surface’.

Housing associations (HA)
A housing association is an independent organisation which is set up to provide affordable homes to those in need of it. Also known as Registered Social Landlords or Private Registered Providers of Social Housing.

Housing delivery test
This measures net additional dwellings provided in a local authority area against the homes required, using national statistics and local authority data. The Secretary of State will publish the Housing Delivery Test results for each local authority in England every November.


Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC)
The IHBC is a professional body for building conservation practitioners and historic environment experts.

See section 26 of the SPD document.

The physical features (for example roads, rails, and stations) that make up the transport or highways network, or utilities such as water, electricity and telecommuncations.

Intensification is the general increase in the number of homes within an area, usually applied to places which have below-average levels of density or are considered capable of accommodating new housing.


The vertical face of an archway, doorway or window.


Land Registry
The Land Registry is a non-ministerial department of the UK Government which is responsible for maintaining a register of all freehold and leasehold land and property. It has a searchable database which can be used to identify the ownership of any area of land.

Lawful development certificate
A procedure by an application can be made to a local planning authority seeking certification for an existing or proposed use, or other forms of development, which has not been confirmed through a planning application.

Listed building
A ‘listed building’ is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national historical or architectural interest. It is included on a register called the statutory list of buildings of architectural or historic interest and part 10 of the local land charges register.

Live / work
A type of building which includes both residential and workplace accommodation within a single demise. Live / work is not defined within the planning system, so securing this use through legal means is difficult.

Local Plan
A plan for the future development of a local area, drawn up by the local planning authority in consultation with the community. In law this is described as the development plan documents adopted under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004. A local plan can consist of either strategic or non-strategic policies, or a combination of the two.

The way buildings, routes and open spaces are placed or laid out on the ground.

Local planning authority
The local authority or council that is empowered by law to exercise planning functions. Within London this is usually the local council or borough, although in some cases it might be a Mayoral Development Corporation such as LLDC or OPDC. In Lewisham, the council is the only local planning authority.

London Plan
The strategic plan for London, setting out an economic, environmental, transport and social framework for development within the capital. All Local Plans should be compliant with the London Plan.


See ‘duplex’.

Major development
For housing developments where 10 or more homes will be provided, or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more. For non-residential development it means additional floorspace of 1,000sqm or more, or a site of 1 hectare or more, or as otherwise provided in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.

See ‘bulk’.

Minor development
Minor developments are all developments that do not meet the requirements to be deemed a ‘major development’.

Mews street
Typically a narrow street with a shared roadway where the street-facing elevations of buildings are built close to the edge of the public realm.


Nationally described space standards (NDSS)
A national document which sets out the minimum internal area of new residential dwellings, and the dimensions of some rooms within them. In London, all new dwellings must comply with these standards.

Neighbourhood plan (forum)
A plan prepared by a parish council or neighbourhood forum for a designated neighbourhood area. In law this is described as a neighbourhood development plan in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the government’s planning policies for England and how these are expected to be applied. All regional and local planning policy should be in compliance with the NPPF.

Nolli plan
A Nolli plan, or ‘figure-ground’, is a two-dimensional diagram which shows only spaces occupied by buildings shaded (usually in black), with all other information removed. It is useful to quickly show the pattern of development within a wide area.


Open space
All space of public value, including rivers, canals, lakes and reservoirs, which can offer opportunities for recreation. They also provide visual amenity and a haven for wildlife.

See ‘aspect’.

A qualititative term used to describe the impact of a development or building on its surroundings, particularly a neighbouring property, in terms of its scale, massing and general dominating effect.

An amount of development (for example the quantity of buildings or intensity of use) that is excessive in terms of demands on infrastructure and services, or impact on local amenity and character.

A term used to describe the effect when a development or building affords an outlook over adjoining land or property causing loss of privacy.

The effect of a development or building on the amount of natural light presently enjoyed by a neighbouring property, resulting in a shadow being cast over that neighbouring property.


The upwards vertical projection of a wall, usually beyond the point at which it meets the roof.

Parking capacity (survey)
The ability of existing streets to accommodate new car parking which may result following the construction of new homes. A parking capacity survey is a report which establishes the potential capacity of an area to accommodate more cars.

Part B
A section of the Building Regulations which deals with fire safety in buildings.

Part L
A section of the Building Regulations which deals with the energy performance of buildings.

Part M
A section of the Building Regulations which deals with the accessibility of buildings for people with reduced mobility, such as wheelchair users.

Passive design
Methods of reducing a building’s energy consumption through choices made in the design of a building’s fabric, such as orientation, air tightness and thermal insulation. As opposed to ‘active’ means, which might include photovoltaic panels, solar thermal or wind turbines.

Passive surveillance
The ability for residents to overlook public external spaces from within their homes, thus providing safety and security to those outside.

A certification standard for assessing a home’s environmental performance. Dwellings which achieve the Passivhaus standard are generally much cheaper to run than conventional homes built to baseline Building Regulations requirements.

Permitted development rights
Permission to carry out certain limited forms of development without the need to make an application to a local planning authority, as granted under the terms of the town and country planning (general permitted development) order.

Photovoltaics / photovoltaic cells
Conversion of solar radiation (the sun’s rays) to electricity by the effect of photons (tiny packets of light) on the electrons in a solar cell.

Piecemeal development
Development which has occured over a long period of time in an unplanned fashion.

The relationship between space, setting and landscape which interact to produce characteristics attributable to a location.

Planning condition
Condition attached to a planning permission to control aspects of development which were uncertain at the point a planning consent was given. These might include a requirement to have external materials approved, to ensure that building works can only take place during certain hours, or to request additional reports be approved prior to work commencing.

Planning permission
Formal approval sought from a council, often granted with conditions, allowing a proposed development to proceed. Permission may be sought in principle through outline planning applications, or be sought in detail through full planning applications.

Planning portal
A national website provided by the government for members of the public, local planning authorities and planning consultants. The planning portal features a wide range of information and services on planning.

Pre-application advice
A non-statutory process where an applicant can seek advice from planning officers on proposed development prior to a planning application being submitted. This can be useful to obtain an early understanding of whether an application is likely to be supported, or what things the applicant might need to consider as the design develops.

Principal elevation
The main elevation of a building, typically the one which contains the front door or the majority of windows serving habitable rooms.

Prior approval
A formal application to the Local Planning Authority to seek permission to carry out works under Permitted Development.

Public realm
This is the space between and within buildings that are publicly accessible, including streets, squares, forecourts parks and open spaces.

Public transport accessibility level (PTAL)
PTAL is the detailed and accurate measurement of the accessibility of an area to the public transport network, taking into account walk access time and service availability. PTALs reflect:

PTALs do not consider:


Registered provider (RP)
See ‘Housing Associations’.

Residential amenity
The benefits enjoyed from within a residential property that the planning system seeks to safeguard. These include no unacceptable impact from noise, vibration, disturbance, air pollution, loss of privacy, outlook (but not particular views) and overshadowing.

Renewable energy
Energy derived from a source that is continually replenished, such as wind, wave, solar, hydroelectric and energy from plant materials, but not fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Although not strictly renewable, geothermal energy is generally included.

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
The RIBA is a membership organisation which represents some architects, members of which are said to be ‘chartered’. It is not to be confused with the ARB: generally all members of the RIBA are also registered with ARB, but not all architects on the register are members of the RIBA.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is a professional body promoting and enforcing standards in the valuation, management and development of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Generally the highest part of a pitched roof, other than the chimney.

A glazed opening in a roof that allows light to enter the building.

The shape made by the outline of a roof when viewed against the sky.


Section 106 agreement
These agreements confer planning obligations on persons with an interest in land in order to achieve the implementation of relevant planning policies as authorised by Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Secured by Design
A set of standards which determine a building’s performance in resisting crime. It is an accreditation scheme run by the police, and provides various guide books setting out how different types of building should be designed securely.

Self-build and custom-build housing
Housing built by an individual, a group of individuals, or persons working with or for them, to be occupied by that individual. Such housing can be either market or affordable housing. A legal definition, for the purpose of applying the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 (as amended), is contained in section 1(A1) and (A2) of that Act.

Shared surface
An external area, usually between homes, where no distinction is made between paths and roadway, where priority is given to pedestrians but is also accessible to cars and other vehicles.

Small sites
A small site is any site that is no larger than 0.25 hectares in size. That is 2,500sqm, or just under a third of the size of a standard football pitch.

Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)
A supplementary planning document provides advice and guidance on the implementation of policies and proposals contained in Lewisham’s Local Plan. SPDs are prepared in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and Regulations 11 to 16 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012.

Street-scene / streetscape
The visual features within streets, which contribute to the character of the street and the wider area.


An alternative approach from the traditional ways of managing runoff from buildings and hardstanding. They can reduce the total amount, flow and rate of surface water that runs directly to rivers through stormwater systems through storing water locally and releasing it back into the sewers at a slow rate.

Housing tenure describes the legal status under which people have the right to occupy their home. Tenures include, but are not limited to, home ownership, private rented and social rented.

Terrace (upper level)
A terrace is an area of external private or semi-private amenity space enjoyed by one or more dwellings, usually above, or elevated from, ground floor level. It is generally understood to be larger than a private balcony, which would usually be an external space accessible to only a single home.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO)
A statutory protection for individual or groups of trees. An application to carry out works to protected trees must be made to and approved by the local planning authority, and damage to any protected tree without authorisation is a criminal offence. Note that trees within a conservation areas with a trunk diameter of more than 75mm are also protected even if a specific TPO does not apply.


Urban Greening Factor (UGF)
The Urban Greening Factor (UGF) is an initiative of the London Plan which is described as ‘a tool that evaluates and quantifies the amount and quality of urban greening that a scheme provides to inform decisions about appropriate levels of greening in new developments’.

Use class
In planning legislation the use classes define the types of functions that can take place within development. For example, there is a use class for residential dwellinghouses, a separate use class for offices and another for restaurants. Planning use classes are revised every few years, so you should refer to the Planning Portal (planningportal.co.uk) which maintains an up-to-date list.


Vertical greening
External walls of buildings provide an ideal opportunity to increase biodiversity, provide visual amenity and create solar shading that mitigates the impact of a warming climate on older buildings through the use of climbing plants. ‘Green walling’ systems can be used, but these can often require active irrigation which needs to be maintained.

An assessment of whether a development meets (usually financial) requirements. What constitutes a ‘viable’ development will vary depending on the person undertaking the assessment: for instance, a developer would not usually consider a project to be viable if it did not make a financial profit; a self-builder might not consider a project to be viable if the total cost was greater than they could afford.


Wheelchair home
This refers to homes built to Building Regulation Requirement M4 (3) (2) (b): Wheelchair user dwellings, where the dwelling is constructed to meet the needs of occupants who use a wheelchair.


A yard is an external area of amenity space which is usually smaller than a private garden and might be used for a purpose other than leisure.