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8 Environment

IM - CREATING A CLEAN AND GREEN ENVIRONMENT

8.1 This Chapter sets out the proposed Core Planning Policies in relation to the aim of creating a clean and green environment. It sets out policies in relation to, sustainable development, the natural and built environment, biodiversity and open spaces. The Core Strategy objectives relating to the environment are:

Environment

To protect, restore and enhance the natural habitats, biodiversity, landscape character, amenity and environmental quality of the countryside and the open spaces and green corridors within towns and villages and improve ecological connectivity across the District.

Built Environment

To preserve and enhance the historic character and locally distinctive identity of the District, to ensure that new development provides high quality, environmentally friendly design and to improve the public realm.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

8.2 Planning has a fundamental role to play in delivering sustainable development and addressing climate change. The framework for addressing climate change is provided by PPS1 and its supplement dated December 2007. Securing sustainable development and addressing the impacts of development on climate change are at the heart of this Core Strategy.

8.3 An illustration of the significance of addressing climate change is provided by the ecological footprint. This measures how much natural resources we have, how much we use and who uses them.

8. 4 The Ecological Footprint for the world is 2.2 global hectares per person, but the UK average is 5.4 global hectares per person. This is 65% higher than our ecological budget (the sustainable amount we can use). The Ecological Footprint for Braintree District as at 2002 was just below 5.5 global hectares per person (Stockholm Environment Institute). There is therefore a need to reduce the impact of the District.

8.5 In 2004, Essex produced a total of 10,131 kilo tonnes of CO2, which equates to 8.5 tonnes per capita. This is almost 1 tonne per person per year less than the UK average (9.2 per capita). Braintree District produced an average of 7.49 tonnes per capita, which is almost 1.75 tonnes per person per year less than the UK average and is due to relatively low levels of emission from industrial and commercial sources.

8.6 Climate change is likely to result in more extreme weather events, including hotter and drier summers, flooding and rising sea levels. There will also be permanent changes in the natural environment.

8.7 The guidance and policies set out in PPS1 and its supplement, and in this Core Strategy therefore seek to reduce and mitigate the impact of the development of the District on climate change by:

  • Securing the highest viable resource and reduction in emissions in providing for homes, jobs and services in the District.
  • Delivering patterns of urban growth and sustainable rural developments that help secure the fullest possible use of sustainable transport for moving freight, public transport, cycling and walking; and which overall reduce the need to travel, especially by car.
  • Securing new development and shaping places that minimise vulnerability, and provide resilience to climate change, and in ways that are consistent with social cohesion and inclusion
  • Conserving and enhancing biodiversity, recognising that the distribution of habitats and species will be affected by climate change.
  • Reflecting the development needs and interests of communities and enabling them to contribute effectively to tackling climate change
  • Responding to the concerns of business and encouraging competitiveness and technological innovation in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Natural Environment

8.8 The Council proposes that areas and networks of green infrastructure should be identified and created, protected, enhanced and managed to provide an improved and healthy environment. This green infrastructure should maximise biodiversity value, contribute to carbon neutral development and to flood attenuation. In developing green infrastructure, opportunities should be taken to develop networks for walking and cycling.

8.9 Development in the District should not have unacceptable impacts upon sites of European or international importance for wildlife. The Council in accordance with legislation has undertaken a Habitats Regulation Assessment of potential impacts upon such sites, the nearest of which are located at the Colne and Blackwater Estuaries in adjoining local authorities.

8.10 The Habitat Regulation Assessment concluded that the effects (including climate change, water quality and increase of recreational visits to the sites) of a population increase in the adjoining authorities of Maldon, Tendring, Chelmsford and Colchester on the Colne Estuary and Blackwater Estuary could, in combination with the increase in population of Braintree District, result in a likely significant effect on these international sites. However, the majority of these effects could be avoided and mitigated by measures applied by Braintree District Council and the neighbouring authorities.

8.11 The mitigation and prevention measures include ensuring that housing has an appropriate allocation of SANG (Sustainable Accessible Natural Greenspace), monitoring the levels of recreational use on sites and ensuring that appropriate site management measures are in place on the international sites.

8.12 The Habitat Regulation Assessment suggested a SANG provision rate of 4ha per 1000 increase in population. More recent advice from Natural England recommends 8ha per 1000 increase in population. Not withstanding this change, the majority of SANGs in the Braintree District will be created from existing open space which at present does not have any public access, or has limited access, existing open space which is already accessible but could be changed in character and/or land in other uses which could be converted into SANGs. The fundingof SANGs will be provided through developer contributions or the community infrastructure levy. The SANGs will be identified in the Allocations DPD.

8.13 Braintree District Council will assist in funding monitoring surveys on the Colne and Blackwater Estuaries, to be undertaken by Colchester Borough Council. This monitoring will highlight if and where adverse impacts are occurring, which will enable Natural England and other relevant stakeholders to implement sites management measures to avoid/mitigate the impacts.

8.14 The Council intends to:

  • Protect and enhance the diversity and local distinctiveness of countryside character areas by developing area wide strategies, based on landscape character assessments, setting long-term goals for landscape change.
  • Developing criteria based policies informed by landscape character assessments and securing mitigation measures, where damage to local landscape character is unavoidable.
  • Ensure new development minimises damage to biodiversity by avoiding harm to local wildlife sites and corridors. Preserving and enhancing habitats, species populations, geological and geomorphological sites. Having regard to the need for habitats and species to adapt to climate change.
  • Protect and enhance the historic environment, including historic market towns, factory villages, conservation areas and listed buildings, rural landscapes and archaeological assets.

8.15 Balancing future development needs with the protection of these sensitive and often fragile environments will be a critical part of the task of promoting and achieving sustainable development and a high quality of life for everyone who lives in and visits the District.

8.16 The Core Strategy seeks:

  • To make sure the landscape character of the countryside, biodiversity, wildlife habitats (including those of European importance outside the District), agricultural land, historic towns,villages and buildings are protected and enhanced for future generations
  • To use the development needs of the District to enhance the environmental quality of our towns and villages, by creating attractive places, developments and green spaces, which will be valued and respected.
  • To promote and secure the use of alternative energy sources, sustainable construction and urban drainage and water and minimise waste and pollution from all developments.
  • To ensure that developments are located away from existing flood risk areas and areas at risk through climate change.
  • To ensure there is adequate capacity in foul water infrastructure to accommodate the development in order to ensure the objectives of the Water Framework Directive are not compromised.

Biodiversity

8.17 The Essex Biodiversity Action Plan was produced in 1999. It was prepared through the Essex Biodiversity Partnership and sets out conservation targets and contains action plans for various priority habitats and species in Essex.

8.18 In 2006 a sub group was formed to review the species and habitats of the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan and to review the format, which included revised targets and actions. Five habitat groups were also formed to drive the review process forward: Lowland Grassland, Heathland, Ancient Woodland, Reedbeds and Brownfield sites.

8.19 Braintree District Council identifies projects which contributes towards delivering the County targets and actions where possible for example, recent wet grassland restoration work in Witham.

8.20 The Local Biodiversity Forums (which Braintree DC are a part of) help to develop and deliver the Biodiversity Action Plan.

Policy CS8

Natural Environment and Biodiversity

All development proposals will take account of the potential impacts of climate change and ensure the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, habitats and biodiversity and geo-diversity of the District. This will include where appropriate protection from:-

  • Air, noise, light and other types of pollution
  • Excessive use of water and other resources

Development should protect the best and most versatile agricultural land.

Development must have regard to the character of the landscape and its sensitivity to change and where development is permitted it will need to enhance the locally distinctive character of the landscape in accordance with the Landscape Character Assessment. Landscape Character Areas will be defined in the Site Allocations Development Plan Document and further guidance will be set out in a supplementary planning document.

The natural environment of the District, and in particular designated sites of national importance and locally designated sites, which are identified on the Proposals Map, will be protected from adverse effects. Criteria based policies will be set out in the Development Management Document, against which proposals for any development within, or affecting such sites, will be considered. The restoration and enhancement of the natural environment will be encouraged through a variety of measures such as;

  • Maximising opportunities for creation of new green infrastructure and networks in sites allocated for development
  • Creating green networks to link urban areas to the countryside
  • Creating and enhancing the biodiversity value of wildlife corridors
  • Designating and protecting local nature reserves and local wildlife sites
  • Conservation and enhancement of SSSIs in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act
  • Development will promote wildlife enhancements which will contribute to the habitat and species restoration targets set out in the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan

The Council will minimise exposure of people and property to the risks of flooding by following the national guidance laid out in PPS25. In particular the sequential test will be applied to avoid new development being located in areas of flood risk. Where a site lies partially in the flood zone the Sequential Approach will also be rigorously applied and only water compatible or essential infrastructure uses (footnote) will be permitted in areas demonstrated to be at risk. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) will be used wherever possible to reduce flood risk, promote groundwater recharge, enhance biodiversity and provide amenity benefit, unless, following an adequate assessment, soil conditions and/or engineering feasibility dictate otherwise.

It must be ensured that the capacity of waste water treatment and foul sewerage infrastructure is not exceeded and that opportunities to improve water quality in all watercourses and water bodies will be taken where possible in order to prevent the deterioration in current water quality standards and meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.

Developers must engage in discussions with water and sewerage providers at the earliest opportunity to provide evidence with their planning application that there is capacity for their proposals.

The Council will seek to promote the use of water efficiency measures.

Footnote: as defined in table D.2. of Planning Policy Statement 25

Built and Historic Environment

8.21 The quality of the District's built environment is already high with over 3,000 listed buildings and 39 conservation areas. High standards of design and layout will be required for new developments in the District. In assessing new developments the Council will have regard to the Essex Urban Place Supplement and the Essex Design Guide. The Council will also want to ensure that new development contributes to carbon reduction through the promotion of efficient use of energy and resources and through waste minimisation and recycling. National policy seeks to achieve zero carbon homes by 2016.

Policy CS9

Built and Historic Environment

The Council will promote and secure the highest possible standards of design and layout in all new development and the protection and enhancement of the historic environment in order to:

  • Respect and respond to the local context, especially in the District's historic villages, where development affects the setting of historic or important buildings, conservation areas and areas of highest archaeological and landscape sensitivity
  • Promote and encourage the contribution that historical assets can make towards driving regeneration, economic development, tourism and leisure provision in the District
  • Create environments which are safe and accessible to everyone, and which will contribute towards the quality of life in all towns and villages
  • Create good quality built environments in commercial and business districts and in the public realm as well as in residential areas
  • Incorporate the principles of sustainable design and construction in accordance with recognised national standards securing the use of:
    • Energy efficient design and materials
    • recycled materials
  • Be capable of meeting the changing future of occupiers, especially in housing developments
  • Promote the sympathetic re-use of buildings, particularly where they make a positive contribution to the special character of the local environment, and can contribute to the delivery of sustainable development and regeneration

Renewable energy proposals will be supported where impacts on amenity, wildlife, heritage assets and landscape are acceptable.

Open Spaces

8.22 There is a need to ensure that the District has a good provision of high quality and accessible green space, including publicly accessible natural green space, space for more formal recreation and allotments. Green spaces can also contribute to the biodiversity of the District. The needs of the District have been identified in the Braintree Green Spaces Strategy. The current SPD on open space standards will be updated to reflect new standards set out in policy CS10.

Policy CS10

Provision for Open Space, Sport and Recreation

The Council will ensure that there is a good provision of high quality and accessible green space, including allotments and publicly accessible natural green space, to meet a wide range of recreation, outdoor sport and amenity needs in District by:

  • Retaining existing sports facilities, green spaces, allotments, and open space used for amenity, recreation or sport unless:
    • they are no longer required to meet identified needs in the long term (through the Braintree Green Spaces Strategy);
    • alternative replacement provision of equal or greater community benefit is provided elsewhere as part of the development;
    • There is an identified surplus in an open space, or sports or recreational facility, in which case development of part of the site may be allowed to secure the re-use of the remainder, to meet an identified deficit in another type of open space, or sport or recreational facility.
    • The use can be shown not to be economically viable.
  • Requiring new development to make appropriate provision (taking into consideration surpluses and deficiencies and condition of the different open space typologies within the vicinity of the site) for publicly accessible green space or improvement of existing accessible green space in accordance with the following standards.

Hectares per thousand people

Parks and gardens 1.2 ha in the main towns and key service villages
Outdoor sports provision 2.0 ha
Amenity greenspaces 0.8ha
Provision for children and young people 0.2ha
Total 4.2ha
  • Investigating through future Local Development Documents, the potential to remedy existing deficiencies in provision and quality of green spaces, outdoor sports and children's play facilities in the areas of greatest deficiency in accordance with the Council's adopted standards other Council open space and leisure strategies and other relevant legislation;
  • Seeking to maintain, improve and expand the network of green corridors and its links with neighbouring districts and broaden the range of opportunities for recreational pursuits within the corridors, including the identification of sites of accessible natural greenspace where appropriate.

8.23 The Council has adopted a supplementary planning document on open space which sets out guidance on the provision of open space and sport and recreation facilities that supports Local Plan Review policies. This will be updated to support policy CS10.

8.24 The Annual Monitoring Report will measure the amount of new open space provided, the amount of financial contributions obtained through S106 agreements, the number of green flags awarded, the number of management plans and maintenance plans in place, the number of green spaces which have been improved and the amount of open space which has been lost. This will monitor the effectiveness of the standards.



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