Contamination and the planning process

Contamination is a material consideration within the planning system. When planning permission is sought for the development on a site that is considered to be potentially contaminated, the council must take this into account and may require investigative work to be completed.

Planning permission may be granted on condition that the site is restored to the satisfaction of the council, depending on the results of an investigation.

In this situation, it is usual for developers (applicants) to commission specialist environmental consultants to conduct contaminated land investigations on their behalf. The resulting assessment of these investigations can then be submitted with the planning application for approval that the site is suitable for the proposed use.

Key points of advice to developers

It is the applicant and developer’s responsibility to ensure the safe development of sites affected by contamination. It is important to identify actual and potential contamination issues at an early stage in order to avoid unexpected costs and delays during and after development.

Contaminated land issues are best addressed by suitably qualified professionals. A Phase I contamination assessment report (i.e. desk study) should be submitted with any planning application which involves land that is suspected or known to be contaminated. This is particularly important if the proposed use is considered sensitive to contamination (e.g. housing, schools, playgrounds, allotments or hospitals).

All site reports and proposed actions require written approval from the local authority. A close dialogue with the local authority at all stages of the process is essential to prevent circumstances that lead to delay, expense and/or legal action.

For advice on developing land which may be affected by contamination, please consult the leaflet; A guide to Developing Land within Nottinghamshire (PDF File, 2,327kb)

Department for Communities and Local Government offers planning guidance about development on land affected by contamination.

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