Context and reasoned justification
The National Planning Policy Framework recognises that helping to improve biodiversity is an important aspect of sustainable development. Our Neighbourhood Plan area has many sensitive natural sites and valuable recreational open spaces.
Given the unique and sensitive nature of much of the land outside the new settlement boundaries (defined in Figures 1a-c) the community supports building as many houses as possible within the existing settlement. There is a presumption against development outside the settlement boundaries as set out in Policy H 1.2 but should any sites come forward in the future that are outside the settlement boundaries or on land designated as AONB or AGLV, as set out in Policy H 1.3, the following policy sets additional criteria for any such development should it be approved by the planning authority. Any building which occurs outside the settlement should meet higher standards of sustainability and showcase the best in environmentally friendly design or be developed as community led, genuinely affordable housing.
Almost half of the UK’s carbon emissions are caused by buildings. The government’s long-term goal is to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, which requires us to create buildings with minimal environmental impact. However, in 2015 the government withdrew the Code for Sustainable Homes incorporating lower standards within building regulations. New standards have been developed by the Building Research Establishment, the Home Quality Mark. A BRE Home Quality Mark four-star rating ‘means that the home is designed and built to have very low running costs, many positive impacts on your health and wellbeing, all with an extremely low impact upon our environment’. This standard or any similar, additional standards that add further protection that are introduced over the life of this Neighbourhood Plan should be followed.
Meanwhile the Plan encourages any proposals or developments that improve the ecological/habitat value of our land and will minimize or mitigate negative effects on the local ecology caused by future development taking place outside the settlement boundaries.
It is the intention of this policy that any developments outside the new settlement boundaries are constructed in such a way as to harmonise with their surroundings and minimise their impact and disruption of the ecology and habitat that surrounds them. Any new development should make the most efficient and best use of the land to minimise the need for additional future land take elsewhere.
H3 All new development outside the settlement boundaries or inside the settlement boundaries on sites with land designated as within AONB and AGLV:
- should be constructed to a standard at least as rigorous as the BRE Home Quality Mark four-star rating
- should include features designed to contribute to the protection, management and enhancement of biodiversity and reduce the impact on the ecology and habitat in which the property is built; this may include:
- more sustainable construction methods and materials
- profiles and exterior materials and treatments that reduce the impact on the visual landscape
- high standards of insulation and/or minimal energy requirements
- onsite water storage and sewage treatment and the use of grey water systems
- provisions to retain, protect and enhance the species interest of the site, including commuting routes, and ensure appropriate management to preserve its landscape and ecological value
- provisions for the enhancement of an acceptable parcel of land within the Plan area in a manner that will increase wildlife and ecological value if the development proposal causes the loss of priority habitats or compromises biodiversity
- avoiding the culverting of streams or rivers within the area and, where possible, removing any existing culverts in order to seek to restore wildlife accessible stream or river margins
- conforming to the Dark Skies Policy H12 minimum requirements
Proposals which achieve a net biodiversity gain across the Neighbourhood Plan area will be supported, subject to conformity with the other policies in this Plan.
Proposals for community led, genuinely affordable housing which achieve only some of the requirements listed above will be supported, subject to conformity with the other policies in this Plan.