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Planning applications on contaminated land

How to carry out a contaminated land assessment as part of a planning application

Dealing with land contamination

Most development takes place on land that has already had one use. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the government's policy on dealing with land contamination through the planning process. The NPPF states that:

  • a development site should be suitable for its new use
  • responsibility for securing a safe development rests with the developer and/or landowner

When considering an application for planning consent, the planning authority will take into account ground conditions and proposals for mitigation. In order to do this, you must submit adequate site investigation information prepared by a competent person in support of the application.

We recommend early discussions with us to help you provide the information needed to support your planning application. If you don't have the expertise to submit the information, you may need to hire an environmental consultant.

Submitting a planning application

Within the existing use section of your planning application, you'll be asked if:

  • the land is known to be contaminated
  • contamination is suspected for all or part of the site, or
  • the proposed use is particularly vulnerable to contamination

For any sites that have had a use that could cause contamination we'll need additional information with your planning application. Please see our tables for what we require.

Requirements for types of development on potentially contaminated land
Type of development Submit with your planning application
New build Desk study and preliminary risk assessment report
Site with previous agricultural use Screening assessment form

Sensitive developments

If the proposed use is particularly vulnerable to the presence of contamination, you'll need to submit the following with your application:

Requirements for types of sensitive development
Type of sensitive development Submit with your planning application
Residential development of 10 or more houses (including nursing homes) Desk study and preliminary risk assessment report
Residential development of 1-9 houses Screening assessment form
Allotments Screening assessment form
School Screening assessment form

Information and application forms

The development of land affected by contamination technical guidance booklet is a helpful source of advice. It sets out in more detail what we would expect to be submitted when potentially contaminated land is going through the planning process. This technical guidance is also useful when discharging conditions on potentially contaminated land.

You can also read our land contamination investigations leaflet, and download the: