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To Discharge a Planning Condition

The majority of our Clients and their agents overseeing planning matters often encounter the need for Contaminated Land, Flood, Noise and Air Quality Assessments as part of an application or to discharge conditions following permission being granted.

All local planning authorities have standard conditions which can be inserted into a Decision Notice if they believe there is a pollution and/or flood risk associated with a proposed development.

The content and structure of the conditions can vary significantly from one local authority to another; some being clear and comprehensive whilst others a brief paragraph. Often the conditions have been recommended by both the Environmental Health Officer and Environment Agency.

If work is being carried out under an NHBC Buildmark Warranty scheme then the NHBC will also have their own specific conditions for Contaminated Land that will require discharging. This is particularly relevant if the Client is a design and build contractor for a new housing development.

Planning conditions to look out for when reviewing a Decision Notice are shown below:

Contaminated Land

In this example, Lustre Consulting prepared a Phase 1 Desk Study to support the original application which is reference in the Condition:

No development approved by this planning permission shall take place until a remediation strategy that includes the following components to deal with the risks associated with contamination of the site has been submitted to and approved, in writing, by the local planning authority:

1. A preliminary risk assessment which has identified all previous uses of potential contaminants associated with those uses and a conceptual model of the site indicating sources, pathways and receptors of potentially unacceptable risks arising from contamination at the site.

2. A intrusive site investigation scheme, based on (1) to provide information for a detailed assessment of risk to all receptors that may be affected, including those off site.

3. The results of site investigation and the detailed risk assessment referred to in (2) and, based on these, an options appraisal and remediation strategy giving full details of the remediation measures required and how they are to be undertaken.

4. A verification plan providing details of the data that will be collected in order to demonstrate that the works set out in the remediation strategy in (3) are complete and identifying any requirements for longer-term monitoring of pollutant linkages, maintenance and arrangements for contingency action.

Any changes to these components require the express written consent of the local planning authority. The scheme shall be implemented as approved. A Phase 1 risk assessment written by Lustre Consulting and dated November 2013 has been provided. The site has previously been used as a petrol station and garage. It is understood that the underground fuel storage tanks have decommissioned and left instu. In the first instance these should be removed.

During the decommissioning of storage facilities associated with the former site use, product could be lost to ground as a result of either deliberate or accidental release during dismantling and removal of tanks, pipework and infrastructure. In addition, a risk could arise off-site if contaminated tanks and pipework are not disposed of in an appropriate manner. When decommissioning, ensure that sufficient pollution prevention measures are in place to prevent the release of hydrocarbons to the ground.  The preliminary site report or Phase 1 Investigation has been carried out in line with relevant guidance. The recommendations for further investigations at the site to determine any required appropriate remediation works should be carried out and relevant proposals agreed with the LPA before any site clean-up works are commenced.

The condition explicitly requires the submission of a phased Contaminated Land Assessment that follows the UK risk-based approach to managing land contamination. The regulatory consultee normally expects that each phase is approved before moving onto the next stage of the assessment and this potential delay should be accounted for in your development programme.  

Principally, there are four phases to a Contaminated Land Assessment:

  • Phase 1 Desk Study

  • Phase 2 Site Investigation 

  • Phase 3 Remediation & Validation

  • Phase 4 Post-remediation monitoring (i.e. groundwater condition).

It should be noted that if the risks are found to be low enough, it is possible that the condition could be discharged following completion of the Phase 1 Desk Study, subject to a basic non-technical watching brief during construction. If recommendations are made for a Phase 2 Site Investigation, it may be that the scope will be driven principally by the need for a Geotechnical Investigation, with chemical testing bolted on to verify the condition of shallow soils and suitability for use. More complex brownfield sites may need formal Phase 3 Remediation and Validation works, especially if they have had a long history of industrial and contaminative use.

Another common condition relates to managing for any unforeseen or unexpected contamination, an example of which is provided below:

In the event that unexpected contamination is found at the site during the construction of the extension hereby approved, work shall stop immediately, a site investigation/ inspection carried out by a competent person and a report shall be submitted in writing to the Local Planning Authority for Approval. No further works shall be undertaken unless otherwise approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority.

How can Lustre Consulting help?

In order to meet your needs and ensure compliance with the various planning conditions, all stages of our Contaminated Land Assessments from Phase 1 Desk Studies through to remediation verification are in keeping with the requirements of local planning procedures, best practice and planning guidance such as that set out in National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Environment Agency’s Model Procedures for the Management of Land Contamination (CLR11).

Lustre Consulting has gained extensive experience discharging planning conditions at each stage of a phased Contaminated Land Assessment on a variety of sites ranging from small developments with less than five units, through to large scale strategic housing developments covering several hectares, commercial and industrial developments.

Points to consider...

Some important points to consider when commissioning a Contaminated Land Assessment for discharging a planning condition:

  • Is the site operational or derelict?

  • Is the planning permission still valid and in date?

  • Has there been, or will there be, any changes to the development layout or proposed use?

  • Are there any existing reports on the site – maybe for previous applications?

  • What is the development programme? A Phase 1 Desk Study will normally take up to 2 weeks to complete and Phase 2 Site Investigation 6 to 8 weeks subject to environmental monitoring.

  • Is the development new housing? If so, are there any NHBC or specific building control conditions that require or may require discharging in the future?

  • Is the site accessible for plant and site investigation equipment? Are there any know constraints with regards to access and vital underground services?