Planning permission and contaminated land

Owners and developers have a responsibility to establish the extent of any potentially harmful materials on their sites. In dealing with planning applications, local planning authorities have a duty to make sure that appropriate investigations are carried out by owners and developers, and that appropriate information about this is submitted with planning applications.

The National Planning Policy Framework requires applicants to consider at the application stage, risks to human health and the environment and ensure that their site is suitable for its proposed use.

We require, as a minimum, a Phase I Land Quality Assessment (see below) to be submitted with applications.

The potential for land to be contaminated is a material consideration for the purposes of town and country planning and it places the responsibility on owners and developers to establish the extent of any potentially harmful materials on their site. It is the local authority's duty to ensure that owners and developers carry out the appropriate investigations and formulate proposals for dealing with any contamination.

The document below contains guidance on the information which is required to be submitted with planning applications for sites/buildings, where contamination will be a material consideration. It clearly sets out the type of contamination assessment we require by developers for different types of planning application.

 Contaminated land in the planning process [PDF, 152KB]

Environmental consultancy

We offer an environmental consultancy on contaminated land, which includes assessments, reports, provision of information on commercial searches and property transactions. It's advisable to book an visit prior to submission of a planning application to discuss your proposals.

Book a support visit

Essential guidance

Please be aware that guidance is continuously being updated and changed, the above documents are a guide and you should ensure that revisions have not been made.

Standard planning condition

We'll apply the model planning conditions recommended by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. There will be times when different conditions are required but these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

We strongly advise anyone dealing with land contamination to appoint an appropriately qualified consultant to carry out the work. We are unable to recommend consultants, however, you can use the ENDS directory to search for services.

 

We require a Phase 1 Land Quality Assessments to be submitted with all planning applications for:

  • Any development where the site is known to be contaminated
  • Any development where contamination is suspected for all or part of the site
  • Any development sensitive to contamination, such as residential, schools, nurseries and allotments

Requirements

The desk study should include as a minimum:

  • Site description and location (including a clear map)
  • Historical information about the site
  • Surrounding area current use and historical uses
  • Conceptual site model identifying potential sources, pathways and receptors
  • Walkover survey
  • Geology
  • Hydro geological information

Relevant guidance

These lists are not exhaustive and act as a guideline only. You should satisfy yourself that all information relevant to site is included.

Intrusive investigation is used to confirm or eliminate potential pollutant linkages, the conceptual model can then be modified to reflect the conditions on site.

Where pollutant linkages are identified a risk assessment is required.

Requirements

The intrusive investigation should include as a minimum:

  • Summary of conclusions of Phase 1
  • Refined conceptual site model
  • Sampling strategy - a clear sampling strategy enables the local authority to understand the thought processes behind the sample locations
  • Results of preliminary risk assessment
  • Details of preparatory works for investigation
  • Sample results, including chain of custody and summary of work done
  • Analysis
  • Plan of sample locations
  • Results of quantitative risk assessment (including worksheets to support any assessment criteria that are not already published)

Relevant guidance

These lists are not exhaustive and act as a guideline only. You should satisfy yourself that all information relevant to site is included.

Remediation options appraisal is carried out and a remediation scheme identified.

Requirements

  • Summary of previous conclusions
  • Refined conceptual site model
  • Statement of remedial objectives
  • Remediation options appraisal
  • Remediation strategy

Relevant guidance

These lists are not exhaustive and act as a guideline only. You should satisfy yourself that all information relevant to site is included.

Once the measures outlined in the remediation scheme/strategy have been put in place, a verification report should be completed.

This stage is often missed but is essential to discharge the condition and enable the Local Authority to confirm remediation in future searches.

Requirements

  • Report objectives
  • Remediation objectives for each pollutant linkage
  • Remediation criteria
  • Plans of areas remediated
  • Monitoring and maintenance plan where required
  • A refined conceptual site model evidencing that the remedial objectives have been met

As a minimum we expect:

  • Colour photographs
  • Sampling of imported material
  • Relevant certificates, for example, waste transfer notes

Relevant guidance

These lists are not exhaustive and act as a guideline only, you should satisfy yourself that all information relevant to site is included.

Bioaccessibility

Arsenic in particular poses a significant problem in Plymouth and without the acceptance of bioaccessibility testing we would see significantly increased volumes of soil going to landfill and/or 'clean' material being brought onto site unnecessarily. We take our commitment to brownfield regeneration and sustainable development very seriously and have therefore decided to accept bioaccessibility testing where appropriate.

We'll only accept bioaccessibility testing where an appropriate method has been used, sufficient samples have been taken and the Environment Agency publications have been consulted and uncertainties have been taken into consideration.