Helping you through the legal maze

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Planning and development is tightly controlled by the law.

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 sets the overall rules for planning permission, but a site will be affected by other measures such as a Local Plan, and since March 2012 the National Planning Policy Framework came into effect, this is generally referred to as the NPPF.

With regards to contaminated land, in addition to planning controls, Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 is relevant.

New sites and a change of land use generally fall under planning controls, but the overriding principle is that once redeveloped, the land could not be designated as contaminated land under Part 2A, so the two pieces of legislation are ultimately enforced jointly when considering redevelopment.

A lot depends on the site and the plans. Does it include rights of way? What will it be used for? Has the Local Authority recorded the site as potentially hazardous, or in the case of underlying groundwater pollution, as "special sites" by the Environment Agency? In the end the property owner is responsible for making sure a site or a new building is legal, but this is where DBS (and a qualified lawyer) can help.

Planning permission is often not needed for minor work, and you can even consult your Local Planning Authority to get confirmation that you don't need it. But for larger work - anything from house extensions to new factories and new residential developments - you will certainly need permission.

In the majority of cases land can be returned to beneficial use straightforwardly, and the underlying principle for favouring development under the NPPF is the principle of sustainability. It is essential that redevelopment includes sustainable solutions for redevelopment, and in the case of contaminated land and remediation, DBS can also help you with this, our remedial designs are undertaken with sustainability aspects at their core, and the actual main benefit of this to our clients is that in most cases sustainable remediation design can actually save a lot of money and time in getting sites ready for build.

Managing risk with DBS

DBS help property owners meet their legal requirements and minimise risk. Planning authorities will only grant permission if the site is safe for inhabitants or users when it is complete and will not harm the surrounding area.

So, if an initial survey finds that your site is at risk from nearby pollution, for example, the documentation sent to the local planning authority will need to show how you're planning to deal with that potential problem.

We have many years experience of guiding projects through the rules and regulations, saving clients time and money and making sure their ideas become a reality. We're able to liaise with the Local Planning Authority, identifying what information they need and making sure it's provided to the standards they are likely to require.

Highly experienced consultants undertake each risk assessment that we prepare, and this is the area where DBS offers value to our clients. We focus on actual risks, and in order to do this successfully the risk assessment needs to be undertaken by a dedicated contaminated land professional. The NPPF also states that contaminated land assessment needs to be undertaken by a competent person, our contaminated land professionals are Chartered Environmentalists, and best placed to deliver your project.

We are currently supporting or have recently supported various Local Authorities in their duties under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, helping them to manage and mitigate risks to human health from land contamination risks within their Boroughs. More information on these projects is provided on Our Projects page.