Planning Library

Planning Glossary

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AccessibilityIn relation to planning and design, accessibility focuses on the inclusive design of a space/building, and how easily it is used and accessed. It is considered a key component of Universal Design (See ‘Universal Design’). There is a focus on the free unencumbered movement of someone in an area/building, allowing for the widest possible range of abilities, and operating within the widest possible range of situations.
Action Area PlanIs a non-statutory plan that is often used by planning authorities to provide a framework for the sustainable development of an area. Whilst there is no prescribed framework these plans tend to be used to provide guidance on design, phasing and delivery of development, including associated infrastructure, for a localised area.
Active Frontage The ground level edge of a building or space which offers opportunities for surveillance through front doors, shop fronts or overlooking windows.
Active Open SpaceAn active open space can refer to parks, playgrounds, outdoor activity areas, sports centres, pitches and landscaped area, or other recreational outdoor spaces.
Affordable HousingWith regard to Government policy on housing in Ireland, the concept of housing affordability is outlined in Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Act), where eligibility for affordable housing is defined on the basis of a ratio of mortgage payments to net income – over 35%.
AlternativesDescription of alternative locations, alternative designs and alternative processes.
Archaeological SiteAn archaeological site is any place where physical remains of past human activities are preserved.
Archaeological Survey of Ireland (ASI) The ASI is a unit of the National Monuments Service, it was established to compile an inventory of the known archaeological monuments in the State. The information is stored on a database and in a series of paper files that collectively form the ASI Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) (See also ‘Sites and Monuments Record’).
Backland DevelopmentDevelopment which takes place to the rear of existing structures fronting a street or roadway.
Bed and BreakfastA building or part thereof where sleeping accommodation and breakfast are available on a commercial basis.
Brownfield LandAny land which has been subjected to building, engineering or other operations, excluding temporary uses or urban green spaces, generally comprise of redundant industrial lands or docks but may also include former barracks, hospitals or even occasionally, obsolete housing areas.
Building LinesA development line along a street or roadway behind or in front of which development is discouraged.
Built EnvironmentThe built environment includes man-made structures, features, and facilities viewed collectively as an environment in which people live and work. Refers to both architectural heritage and archaeological heritage.
Community FacilitiesFacilities which are operated for the benefit of the public and which are open to the public.
Compact GrowthCompact growth promotes the efficient use of land through consolidation, active land management and effective densities, in order to minimise sprawl of urban development.
Conservation PlanA conservation plan is a vital instrument to help conserve, restore and preserve any area which contains natural landscape, fauna, wildlife, ancient monuments, built heritage and dwellings which are considered to be of special interest, and of value to the local community and nation.
Continuance of UseAn application may be submitted for the Continuance of Use of a development, where that use was originally intended or restricted to a defined temporary period only. Such applications must be made before the end of the defined temporary period. Any application made after the defined temporary period should seek 'Retention Permission' (see below).It is advisable to contact the relevant planning authority prior to submitting an application of this nature.
Core of an Urban SettlementThe core area of a city, town or village which acts as a centre for a broad range of employment, retail, community, residential and transport functions.
Derelict SiteThe Derelict Sites Act defines a derelict site as any land that “detracts, or is likely to detract, to a material degree from the amenity, character or appearance of land in the neighbourhood of the land in question because of”: Structures which are in a ruinous dangerous condition, the presence or collection of debris, litter and waste in the structure/land, and the neglected, unsightly or objectionable condition of the land or structures on it.
Development BoundaryThe development boundary of a settlement defines the extent to which a settlement may grow during the lifetime of the development plan.
Development ClustersIf new employment or economic development is encouraged to locate close to other related activities, the resulting development clusters would help to reduce any adverse environmental impacts, reduce any unnecessary travelling and foster the development of specialised labour markets.
Farm Building DevelopmentThere are a variation of farm building typologies which are exempted from the requirements of planning permission. They are broken into building types, with different exemptions assigned to varying building types).
Floor Area Ratio (FAR)The ratio of a building's total gross floor area to the size of the land area.
Freestanding SignA standalone sign that generally has one or two columns supporting it.
GoalsGoals are the broadest expressions of a community’s desires. Goals give direction to a plan as a whole. Goals are concerned with the long term, and often describe ideal situations that would result if all plan purposes were fully realised. Since goals are value-based, their attainment is difficult to measure.
Green BeltAn area of countryside with particular planning controls aimed at maintaining the distinction in character between a town or city and its hinterland and preventing unrestricted sprawl of urban areas into the countryside. A green belt also helps to prevent individual settlements merging into one another, focuses attention on suitable development land within settlements, provides a source of recreation and amenity within easy reach of most built up areas and helps to retain land in agriculture, forestry and other uses that could be susceptible to pressure for inappropriate development.
Greenfield SitePotential open development land on the periphery of urban settlements having no previous building on it. Development on such lands will generally require the provision of new infrastructure, roads, sewers and ancillary social and commercial facilities, schools, shops, employment and community facilities.
GuesthouseA building or part thereof where sleeping accommodation, meals and other refreshments are available to residents and non-residents.
Habitable RoomA bedroom or living room, including a combined kitchen/family dining room but not a bathroom or small kitchen.
Hard LandscapingThe use of inorganic and inanimate materials, for example rock and stone, in the landscaping of an area, frequently including artificial and manmade objects, such as seating, paving, railings, etc.
Hedgerows (Significant)A natural or semi-natural row of bushes, shrubs and/ or trees forming a boundary. Hedgerows help define places, act as shelterbelts, add to bio-diversity and offer significant wildlife habitat.
Historic Environment ViewerAn on-line digital service provided by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. It has been developed to enhance the user’s experience by facilitating access to the databases of the National Monuments Service Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH).
Holiday HomesCommercial holiday homes provide tourism accommodation on a short term letting basis. They may have different requirements from conventional residential developments in terms of location, design, layout, amenity and facilities etc.
Home-Based Economic ActivitiesSmall scale commercial activities, which are secondary to the use of the premises as a residence.
HouseholdOne or more persons occupying a dwelling, which has kitchen and bathroom facilities.
HP (Haase and Pratschke) Deprivation IndexThe HP index is a core index for the Republic of Ireland and covers the 18,488 small areas of the 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses. The index serves as a measure of prevailing social gradients and needs.
Housing Market AreaA housing market area is a geographical area defined by household demand and preferences for all types of housing, reflecting the key functional linkages between places where people live and work.
Inactive FrontageThe edge of a building or space which offers no opportunity for surveillance.
Inclusive DesignDesigning for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing disabilities. (See also ‘Universal Design’).
Indirect EffectEffects that are not a direct result of the Plan or Programme (P/P). (See also ‘Secondary Effect').
Infill HousingHousing which fills gaps in otherwise continuous built-up frontage and is appropriate to the character of the street and/or village.
Key ViewpointsPlaces from which a development can be viewed that are crucial and sensitive with respect to observer numbers and interest.
Landscape SensitivityLandscape sensitivity describes the extent to which a particular landscape can absorb a particular kind of development without affecting its distinctive character.
Land UseThe activities that take place within a given area of space.
Land Use ZoningThe purpose of zoning is to indicate the land use objectives for all the lands within a given area. Zoning aspires to promote the orderly development of public infrastructure and facilities within a given area.
Material AssetsCritical infrastructure essential for the functioning of society such as: electricity generation and distribution, water supply, wastewater treatment transportation etc.
MetadataInformation that identifies, locates and describes the characteristics of spatial datasets, to facilitate cataloguing and accessing them, as well as establishing their fitness for use (i.e. quality) and their fitness for purpose (i.e. usability).
ObjectivesObjectives are measurable benchmarks that can be used to assess incremental progress in achieving the broader purposes expressed in policies and goals.
Park and RidePark and Ride is a facility that offers a choice to car users to change from their cars into public transport (rail or bus) with the benefit of reducing the number of cars entering the urban areas and thus easing congestion.
Passive Open SpaceThe term passive open space is used to describe open land with uses such as agriculture, private landscaped gardens, and woodland. Though they may not provide active public access, passive open spaces provide important visual settings that add to the character of a settlement or locality and enhance the surroundings.
PermeabilityThe degree to which an area has a variety of pleasant, convenient and safe routes through it.
PhotomontageA image whereby an impression of a potential development is superimposed upon an actual photograph.
Plot RatioThis is the gross floor area of the building(s) divided by the area of the site and is used to depict the intensity of use of a site. In calculating the area of a site adjoining road widths are excluded.
ProposalThe term Proposal is used to encompass any or all plans/programmes/projects/activities. (See also ‘Proposal’ in the Environment glossary).
Proxy DataData that substitutes or act as a proxy to the relevant data when these do not exist or have not been gathered.
PublicOne or more natural or legal persons and, in accordance with national legislation or practice, their associations, organisations or groups.
Residential DensityThis is the measure of housing density used as a basis for development management. It is the number of houses divided by the site area.
Residual RiskThe risk which remains after all risk avoidance, substitution and mitigation measures have been implemented, on the basis that such measures can only reduce risk, not eliminate it.
Ribbon DevelopmentThe building of houses in a continuous row along a main road. Generally, such housing is expensive to service as extensive service pipes etc., are required. Frequently, such housing is not connected to public sewerage and is dependent on private onsite wastewater treatment systems.
Satellite TownA town, self-contained and limited in size, built in the vicinity of a large town or city to house and employ those who would otherwise create a demand for expansion of the existing settlement, but dependent on the parent-city to a certain extent for population and major services.)
Secondary EffectEffects that are not a direct result of the Plan or Programme (P/P). (See also ‘Indirect Effect’).
Services (General) Activities directly relating to serving the needs of the public, which do not involve any manufacturing processes. They include restaurants, shops, professional services and entertainment outlets.
Service SectorThis is the employment sector, which involves the provision of services, frequently referred to as the tertiary sector.
Short-term EffectsThese are typical of those effects that may occur during construction stage of a development, for example, the increased traffic going to and from a site during construction, or, the noise associated with construction activities.
Site CoverageSite coverage is the portion of the site that is built on and is determined by dividing the total site area by the ground floor of the building.
Social InfrastructureBuildings and other structures related to serving the needs of the public for social, health, educational and/or recreational needs; it includes such facilities as schools, community centres, parish halls and recreational facilities.
Social HousingRented housing provided either by the local authority, or a voluntary or co-operative housing body.
Soft LandscapingThe use of water and natural vegetation including trees, planting, shrubs, in the landscaping of the area.
Sustainable DevelopmentSustainable development is most often defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Town CentreTown centres are commercial and cultural centres serving a wider urban and rural area. They are primarily for retail, housing, and a diverse range of other uses, particularly those where services are provided to visiting members of the public.
UndercroftA ground level parking area below a building or its associated outdoor areas. Unlike basement car parks, undercrofts may be naturally ventilated with careful design to avoid inactive frontages.
Universal DesignUniversal design is the design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.
Urban Consolidation The development or redevelopment of underutilised urban land in an efficient, compact and robust fashion.
Urban DensityDensity (specifically referring to the density of urban space) can refer to the population in a given area, the building size/height on a particular site, floor area ratio (FAR).
Urban Development NodesThese function as service centres to their rural hinterlands and have potential to develop as important urban centres with enhanced employment roles based on 'niche' economic sectors.
Urban RenewalThe revitalisation of urban areas through specific development objectives and strategic planning principles.
Urban SprawlThe excessive outward expansion of built development, away from the core town centre and into the surrounding countryside. This form of development is viewed as unsustainable.
Urban Strategic PlanningThis planning involves long term projects and generates sustainable development through careful investment in and management of public and private resources for infrastructure.
Urban StructureThe physical attributes of an urban place – the form and mass of its buildings and the layout of its streets and open spaces. The term also describes the pattern of routes and linkages that provide access and connectivity, and define the movement framework of the urban area.
VernacularThe way in which ordinary buildings were built in a particular place, making use of local styles, techniques and materials and responding to local economic and social conditions.
Wireframe/ Wireframe DiagramComputer generated diagrams that illustrate how development will appear upon landforms from identified viewpoints. A useful tool to illustrate visual impact, especially when used in combination with photographs from the same view.
Zone of Influence(ZoI)A zone of influence of a proposal is the potential geographic area that could be affected by its implementation. Governmental guidance recommends consideration of an ex-situ 15-km buffer area for European sites around the proposal boundary for plans/programmes. Nevertheless, the zone of influence should be regarded as having flexible boundaries that may change during the assessment.
Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) The maps produced are theoretical because they estimate exposure of proposed development based upon landform data only, and take no account of intermittent screening by vegetation or structures. ZTV maps estimate visibility of the proposed development in the surrounding landscape and not its 'visual influence'.
Zone of Visual Influence (ZVI)Provides a visual representation, usually presented as a map with markings or colourings, of the area over which a site and/or a proposed development may be visible.

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