Land use planning advice around large scale petrol storage sites



This circular gives advice to HID CEMHD Teams, Local Planning Authorities (LPA's) and potential developers on the procedure for providing Land Use Planning advice around Large Scale Petrol Storage Sites (LSPSS).


1  The Buncefield explosion and fire in December 2005 caused significant damage to property offsite, and particularly to industrial premises close to the site boundary. Early in 2007, HSE produced Consultation Document CD211, seeking views on greater control of development around those sites similar to Buncefield, known as Large Scale Petrol Storage Sites (LSPSS). The Consultation Document (CD) made particular reference to ways of strengthening development control procedures in the areas closest to the site perimeter.

2  The responses to the CD supported HSE's view that more cautions advice should be given. The rest of this circular explains the new arrangements for providing such advice.

3  LSPSS are defined as COMAH upper and lower tier sites where petrol is stored in vertical, cylindrical, non-refrigerated, above ground storage tanks with side walls greater than 5 metres in height, and where the filling rate is greater than 100 cubic metres/hour (unless enclosed overflow systems are provided to take the material to a safe place).

4  The following procedures ONLY apply to new developments around LSPSS. For developments within the consultation distance of all other onshore chemical hazardous installations and major accident hazard pipelines, HSE's advice should be obtained through the HSE Planning Advice Web App. Information about the HSE Planning Advice Web App and HSE's land use planning methodology can be found on the HSE land use planning website.


5  Within HSE's land use planning methodology developments are categorised into one of four sensitivity levels (SL1, SL2, SL3, SL4) and a decision matrix is used to provide advice on such developments in the Inner, Middle and Outer zones around the Hazardous Installation. These land use planning zones are produced by HSE.

6  The arrangements around LSPSS introduce both a new "Development Proximity Zone" (DPZ) and a new sensitivity level zero (SL0). For developments around these sites only, HSE's decision matrix is extended to take account of the new zone and sensitivity level. The modified matrix is shown below:

Sensitivity Level Development in DPZ Development in Inner Zone Development in Middle Zone Development in Outer Zone

Key:  DAA = HSE does not advise against the development
AA = HSE advises against the development

The Development Proximity Zone

7  The Development Proximity Zone (DPZ) is a new land use planning consultation zone, being the zone closest to the boundary of the Hazardous Installation – ie it lies within the Inner Zone. Within the DPZ, only developments which are not normally occupied will attract Does not Advise Against (DAA) advice from HSE.

8  The DPZ will extend to 150m from the boundary of the relevant storage tank bunds within the LSPSS. It is therefore possible that the DPZ may lie entirely within the site perimeter, or extend to a distance less than but not exceeding 150m from the site boundary.

9  The size of the four land use planning zones are:

DPZ = 150m from tank bund
Inner Zone = 250m from tank bund
Middle Zone = 300m from tank bund
Outer Zone = 400m from tank bund

This is illustrated in the diagram below.

The size of the four LUP zones

10 For those LSPSS which, in addition to petrol, also have hazardous substances consent for other hazardous substances, the inner, middle and outer zones may be larger than those indicated in the above diagram, reflecting the risks associated with those substances.

Not Normally Occupied Developments

11 Sensitivity Level Zero (SL0) developments are those that are not normally occupied. HSE have defined the type of developments that are considered to be SL0, and hence would not be advised against in the DPZ. The definitions tabulated below are those HSE will use when providing advice on developments within the DPZ.

Development Type 0: Not normally occupied.

Reference Examples Details Justification

DT0.1 Parking Areas. (limited to 500 cars)




Airport long stay parking served by a shuttle bus



Exclude multi-storey car parks – these are SL 1

Car parks, Truck parks, lock up garages








Exclude normal park and ride schemes; under PADHI they are SL2



No associated structures or recreational areas. Truck drivers not allowed to sleep in cabs. Lock up garages not to be used for maintenance work.





Mainly used by holiday makers where the average stay is 7 – 14 days. No associated occupied building in the DPZ

To protect individuals and control the number of people in the DPZ at any time – any individual must be present for less than 2 hrs in any 24 hr period.





Large multi-storey car parks may be a source of confinement in event of a flammable cloud igniting, and may have > 50 people present at busy times.

DT0.2 Storage facilities

Structures that are 'not normally occupied' and used for storage. Includes outdoor storage, farm buildings. NOT TO BE USED BY PUBLIC.

Use of structures or storage area must meet occupancy criterion.

No more than 3 workers to be present at any one time. Total time people present not to exceed 2 hours in any 24 hour period.

DT0.3 minor transport links




Exclude railways, major roads, trams, and any road used by public buses

Access roads to car parks, storage areas

Single carriageway roads, light traffic

Associated with other development. Small numbers exposed for short periods (travel time included in occupancy criterion)

Transient population could be relatively large for busy lines, also source of ignition.

Process for Obtaining HSE's Advice on Planning Applications or Pre-Application Enquiries

12 Four-zone maps for all the LSPSS in the UK have been provided to the relevant LPA's and the zones are included in the HSE Planning Advice Web App.

13 For planning applications for sites which do not encroach into the DPZ but are in the Inner, Middle and Outer Zones, LPA's can use the HSE Planning Advice Web App to obtain HSE's advice. LPA's and developers can also use the HSE Planning Advice Web App to obtain HSE's advice on pre-application enquiries in such circumstances.

14 For any planning application or enquiry which involves a site within the DPZ, the HSE Planning Advice Web App will advise the LPA or developer to provide details of the proposal to HSE for formal advice. This will include all applications where any part of the development site falls within the DPZ.

15  When HSE is consulted on a proposal for a development within the DPZ, it will check whether all uses or activities proposed within the DPZ comply with the definitions of Not Normally Occupied (SL0) given above.

16  Providing the development complies with the definition of SL0, it will receive a "Does not Advise Against" (DAA) response, otherwise HSE will advise against the granting of planning permission (AA). Having determined what advice is appropriate for the proposed development, HSE will provide the LPA or developer with that advice.

Rules That HSE Will Use For Straddling Developments and Extensions to Existing Developments

17 For SL1 developments that straddle the boundary between the DPZ and the inner zone, ALL parts of the development site within the DPZ need to comply with the definitions of "Not Normally Occupied". 'Rule 1 – Straddling developments', of HSE's land use planning methodology, also known as the "10% rule", does not apply to any developments which lie within the DPZ.. Examples of "Not Normally Occupied" would be landscaping, employee car parking, and buildings that are not normally occupied. The presence of anything classed as SL1 (or higher) within the DPZ will result in an "Advise Against" response.

18 Where a planning application relates to an extension to an existing development, HSE will advise against the proposal unless all of the extension complies with the definitions of "Not Normally Occupied" (SL0) given above. However, provided that the proposed extension meets the SL0 criteria, HSE will not advise against it, although the existing development to which the extension relates may be  SL1 or higher.

Developments within Major Hazard Installations

19 HSE's advice on proposed occupied buildings within the DPZ may be different if the proposed development is within the site boundary of a Major Hazard Installation and will be under the control of the operator of the Major Hazard Installation. Whilst planning permission for large occupied buildings within the DPZ would be advised against, there may be cases where SL1 developments are appropriate – examples are plant control rooms, which could be specially constructed to withstand the effects of fire or explosion. In such cases, HSE's LUP advice will be "Does not Advise Against", and HSE will use its powers as the COMAH Competent Authority to ensure the risks to the occupants of the proposed building are properly controlled. This takes account of the need for the Operator of the Major Hazard Installation to carry out an Occupied Buildings Risk Assessment, demonstrating the suitability of the building for its proposed location.

Procedure if the Planning Authority Is Minded to Grant Planning Permission against HSE's Advice

20 LPA's may occasionally be minded to grant planning permission contrary to HSE's advice on particular developments, based on balancing the local benefits of the development against the risks of building it in proximity to a Hazardous Installation.

21 In most cases, HSE will not pursue the matter further as long as it is satisfied that LPA understands the reason for our advice. This reflects HSE's existing position, as stated in para 072 of the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning Practice Guidance on Hazardous Substances – Handling development proposals around hazardous installations and the equivalent Scottish Government and Welsh Assembly Government documents.

22 If HSE considers that a case should be "Called In" for determination by a higher authority, that request would be considered by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in England, whilst in Wales it is The Welsh Assembly Government.

23 In Scotland, if a planning authority wishes to grant planning permission contrary to HSE's advice, the application must first be notified to the Scottish Ministers, who will then seek HSE's views on whether the application should be called-in.

24 Where LPA's are minded to grant planning permission against HSE's advice for a development in the DPZ, the cases will be individually considered by HSE.

Annex 1

Requirement to Consult HSE under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015

In England LPA's are required to consult HSE for advice on planning applications within the Consultation Distance of Hazardous Installations by Article 18 of the Town & Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 (SI 2015/595). Schedule 4 specifies the scale of development above which the LPA must consult HSE.

Sensitivity Level Zero (SL0) developments may be smaller in scale than those covered in Schedule 4, para (e) although there is also a requirement for LPA's to consult HSE where a development "is otherwise likely to result in a material increase in the number of persons working within or visiting the notified area".  Para (zb) of Schedule 4 also requires a planning authority to consult the COMAH Competent Authority, which includes HSE, on "new developments including transport routes, locations of public use and residential areas in the vicinity of establishments, where the siting or development may be the source of or increase the risk or consequences of a major accident."

Due to the relatively high risks to persons within the DPZ, HSE would wish to be consulted on any developments involving the presence of people within the DPZ, even if the development is smaller in scale than those defined in Schedule 4(e). However, where the planning application relates to a short-term maintenance or overhaul activity, HSE need not be consulted.

Scottish Legislation

In Scotland, the scale of development which needs consultation with HSE is defined in Regulation 25 and Schedule 5 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/155)

Welsh Legislation

In Wales, the scale of development which needs consultation with HSE is defined in Article 14 and Schedule 4 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (Wales) Order 2012 (SI 2012/801 (W.110)

Further Information

For further information contact HID CEMHD5, 2.2 Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle, L20 7HS.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2022-08-16