If you're the owner or developer of a site it's your responsibility to prevent unacceptable risks from pollution and land instability, and ensure that any future development is safe and suitable for use.

 Planning applications must be supported by an appropriate 'contamination assessment' if:

  • there's evidence that your site may be affected by contamination
    and/or
  • the proposed use is 'vulnerable to the presence of contamination' (for example, residential housing)

Due to the complex and technical nature of and contamination, developers should to refer guidance published by the YALPAG Planning guidance development on land affected by contamination

Additional guidance from YALPAG should be followed if you plan to import topsoil and subsoil whether or not this is part of an engineered cover layer, or you need to provide gas protection.

A preliminary unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk assessment is required for developments in areas that have experienced aerial bombardment or when they are close to historical military sites such as airfields or anti-aircraft weaponry.

Additionally, Sunderland has a localised legacy of mining and wartime activity.

  • Sites within the coalfield should be supported by a Coal Mining Report, and a Coal Mining Risk Assessment will be required within any Development High Risk Area.  The Coal Authority Interactive Map Viewer provides a high risk area option.

Alternatively you can request pre application advice. Our charges are in accordance with the Pre-Application Charter.

For further information contact the City and neighbourhood team.

The National Quality Mark Scheme for Land Contamination

Sunderland City Council supports the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS) for land affected by contamination.  The aim of the NQMS is to make sure all legislative requirements and necessary standards connected to the management of land contamination are met to provide increased confidence and improved quality of submissions made under the development management process, related to previously used land.

The NQMS requires a high level of professional integrity by all those involved.  Reports submitted to Sunderland City Council through this scheme must be verified by a suitably qualified person (SQP) and provided with an accompanying NQMS declaration.  An SQP is an experienced professional in the field of land contamination, capable of assessing whether a document meets the requirements of the scheme. Although the SQP may delegate the peer review process of individual components of the work to other individual specialists, they retain responsibility for ensuring that those individuals are capable to undertake those tasks.

Significant economic benefits are achieved by providing high quality reports and "getting it right first time" and it is hoped that Sunderland Council's support of the scheme will reduce the need for lengthy negotiations and provide speedier resolution in the Development Management process.