Active frontages

An active frontage is one which allows some kind of movement or visual relationship between the person outside and the activity inside. At a minimal level, this interaction might be one of simple observation such as a window display or people working. At a higher level of interaction, the pedestrian could be encouraged to enter the unit to buy something or participate in an activity. The most interactive frontages are usually those of cafés, bars or shops, which spill out onto the street.


The ease with which a building, place of facility can be reached by people and/or goods and services. Accessibility can be shown on a plan or described in terms of pedestrian and vehicle movements, walking distance from public transport, travel time or population distribution.


The expression of the vertical or horizontal subdivision of a building facade into perceivable elements by the treatment of its architectural features.


An obstacle to movement.


Encompasses all aspects of biological diversity, especially including species richness, ecosystem complexity and genetic variation.

Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)

A plan that sets objectives and measurable targets for the conservation of biodiversity.

Block/Urban Block

The area bounded by a set of streets and undivided by any other significant street.

Building element

A feature (such as a door or window) that contributes to the overall design of a building.

Building line

The line formed by the frontages of buildings along a street.

Built form

Buildings and their structures.


The combined effect of the arrangement, volume and shape of a building or group of buildings. Also called massing.

Buildings of Local Interest

Buildings of Local Interest are not subject to statutory protection, but are recognised as being of importance to the locality or the City’s historical and architectural development.

Cambridge Local Plan 2006

The Cambridge Local Plan 2006 sets out policies and proposals for future development and land use to 2016; the Plan will be a material consideration when determining planning applications.

City Centre

Historic Core and Fitzroy/Burleigh Street shopping areas in Cambridge. These areas provide a range of facilities and services, which fulfil a function as a focus for both the community and for public transport. See also Cambridge Proposals Map (February 2008).

Conservation Areas

Areas identified, which have special architectural or historic interest, worthy of protection and enhancement.

Desire Line

An imaginary line linking facilities or places which people would find it convenient to travel between easily.


The use of buildings to create a sense of defined space.

Eyes on the street

People whose presence in adjacent buildings or on the street make it feel safer.


The principal face of a building.


The arrangement of windows on a facade.

Fine grain

The quality of an area’s layout of building blocks and plots having small and frequent subdivisions.


The layout (structure and urban grain), density, scale (height and massing) and appearance (materials and details).

Habitats Regulation Assessment

An assessment of the potential effects of a proposed plan in combination with other plans or projects on one or more European sites, Special Areas of Conservation, Special Protection Areas and RAMSAR sites). Required by the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, this assessment must be carried out for all local development documents, including SPDs, and approved by Natural England prior to the adoption of the document in question.


The degree to which a place can be easily understood by its users and the clarity of the image it presents to the wider world.

Listed Building

A building or structure of special architectural or historic interest and included in a list, approved by the Secretary of State. The owner must get Listed Building Consent to carry out alterations that would affect its character or its setting.

Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP)

The Action Plan works on the basis of partnership to identify local priorities and to determine the contribution they can make to the delivery of the national Species and Habitat Action Plan targets. The Local Biodiversity Action Plan has been prepared by Biodiversity Cambridgeshire (contact via Cambridgeshire County Council) 1999.

Local Plan

Abbreviation used to describe the statutory plan adopted by the City Council. It is a material consideration in determining planning applications, which should be in accordance with them as part of the Development Plan.

Major Development

Defined as:
Residential development: the erection of 10 or more dwellings or, if this is not known, where the site is 0.5 hectares or more; or other development: where the floor area to be created is 1,000m2 or more, or the site area is 1 hectare or more.


The combined effect of the arrangement, volume and shape of a building or group of elements. This is also called bulk.


The purpose of mitigation is to avoid, reduce and where possible remedy or offset any significant negative (adverse) effects on the environment etc. arising from the proposed development.


People and vehicles going to and passing through buildings, places and spaces.

Natural surveillance

The discouragement to wrong-doing by the presence of passers-by or the ability of people to see out of windows. Also known as passive surveillance.

Open Space

Includes all open space of public value. There is a broad range of spaces that may be of public value - not just land but also areas of water such as rivers and lakes - and includes, parks and gardens; natural and semi-natural urban greenspaces; green corridors; outdoor sports facilities; amenity greenspace; teenager’s and children’s play areas; allotments and community gardens; cemeteries and churchyards; accessible countryside in urban fringe areas and civic spaces.

Parking Standards

Document setting out maximum permissible levels of car parking for various use-classes, along with minimum levels of cycle parking.


Permeability describes the degree to which urban forms, buildings, places and spaces permit or restrict the movement of people or vehicles in different directions. Permeability is generally considered a positive attribute of urban design, as it permits ease of movement by different transport methods and avoids severing neighbourhoods. Areas which lack permeability, e.g. those severed by arterial roads or the layout of streets in cul-de-sac form, are considered to discourage effective movement on foot and encourage longer journeys by car.

Planning Condition

Requirement attached to a planning permission. It may control how the development is carried out, or the way it is used in the future. It may require further information to be provided to the Local Planning Authority before or during the construction.

Planning Obligation

A binding legal agreement requiring a developer or landowner to provide or contribute towards facilities, infrastructure or other measures, in order for planning permission to be granted. Planning Obligations are normally secured under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

Public Art

Publicly sited works of art, which make an important contribution to the character and visual quality of the area and are accessible to the public. Details as per adopted Public Art SPD and any successor document.

Public Realm

The parts of a village, town or city (whether publicly or privately owned) that are available, without charge for everyone to use or see, including streets, squares and parks.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy covers those energy flows that occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment – from the wind, the fall of water, the movement of the oceans, from the sun and from biomass.

Section 106

See Planning Obligation.

Shared Space

A street or place accessible to both pedestrians and vehicles that is designed to enable pedestrians to move freely by reducing traffic management features that tend to encourage users of vehicles to assume priority.

Spill out space

Space used in association with an adjacent building (tables and chairs on the pavement outside a cafe, for example).

Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) /Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

SPDs add detail to policies laid out in development plan documents, or a saved policy in an existing development plan. These may take the form of design guides, area development briefs, a master plan or issue-based documents. These documents can use illustrations, text and practical examples to expand on how the authority’s policies can be taken forward.

Local authorities must involve the community in the preparation of SPDs. They are also subject to a Sustainability Appraisal to ensure economic, environmental and social effects of the plan are in line with sustainable development targets.

The SPD may be taken into account as a material consideration in making planning decisions such as determining planning applications.

Sustainability Appraisal (SA)

An appraisal against sustainability criteria of proposals.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is a very broad term that encompasses many different aspects and issues from the global to local levels. Overall sustainable development can be described as ‘Development, which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability for the future generations to meet their own needs’ (after the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development – the Brundtland Commission).

Sustainable Drainage Strategy (SuDS)

Development normally reduces the amount of water that can infiltrate into the ground and increases surface water run-off due to the amount of hard surfacing used. Sustainable drainage systems control surface water run off by mimicking natural drainage process through the use of surface water storage areas, flow limiting devices and the use of infiltration areas or soakaways etc.

Transport Assessment (TA)

The Assessment [or Consideration] of the potential transport impacts of a proposed development, with an agreed plan to reduce or mitigate any adverse consequences and where appropriate establish how more sustainable modes of travel can be increased.

Travel Plan

Package of measures tailored to a particular site, aimed at promoting more sustainable travel choices (such as walking, cycling, public transport) and reducing car use. It may include initiatives such as car sharing schemes, provision of cycle facilities, improved bus services, and restricting or charging for car parking.

Urban Grain

The pattern of the arrangement and size of buildings and their pots in a settlement; and the degree to which an area’s pattern of street blocks and street junctions is respectively small and frequent, or large and infrequent.

Use Class

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) established Use Classes, which is a system for classifying uses of land.

For instructions on how to use the system and make comments, please see our help guide.
back to top back to top