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The design of new development

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The importance of good design in relation to the delivery of sustainable development and good planning is set out in national policy guidance. Design will be a material consideration to all applications for new development which includes individual buildings, the creation of public and private spaces and wider area development schemes.

High quality sustainable design

Good design can deliver wider economic, environmental and social benefits. Therefore it is not just an issue of visual appearance but how design can contribute to the way in which an area functions in the short term and also over the lifetime of the development.

On that basis the Council considers that to achieve high quality, sustainable design proposals must:

  • Respond positively to their context and setting;
  • Address the connections between people and places;
  • Be physically, functionally and economically integrated into their existing environment in a positive and inclusive manner;
  • Be integral to creating safe, accessible and inclusive environments; and
  • Reduce the impact of the development on the natural environment.

Supplementary Planning Document on Design

Design Council Cabe prepares policy and practice guidance on the design of the built and natural environment. The Council will treat this as a material consideration when assessing proposals against national and local policy objectives.

The Council has prepared a Supplementary Planning Document on Design to provide guidance on how the principles of good design that the Council has adopted should be applied by applicants to a particular building or site. The SPD is a material consideration in the assessment of applications.

The Council will refuse schemes where design is considered to be poor. Examples of poor quality design will include:

  • Design solutions that are inappropriate to their context;
  • Schemes which fail to take positive opportunities to improve the appearance of the area or the way it functions.

For major schemes or proposals that are expected to have a significant impact on their surroundings the Council encourages pre-application discussions through its Development Team approach.

The Council will also encourage applicants for major schemes to undergo an independent design review through Places Matter!, the regional design review panel.

Design and Access Statements and Outline Applications

Applicants are required to submit a Design and Access statement (DAS) in support of the majority of applications. The information provided should be proportionate to the type and scale of development proposed.

Where a DAS fails to adequately explain and justify the proposal against the requirements of Circular 01/06 and local and national policy this may be used by the Council as grounds to justify refusal of the scheme.

Where the application is in outline the information provided in the DAS should be sufficient to explain and justify the concepts for the scheme without the need for further information at reserved matters stage. This is to ensure the full impact of the proposal can be properly assessed at the outline stage.

Natural Environment

The Framework states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment. It requires that Local Planning Authorities set out criteria based policies against which proposals for any development on or affecting potential wildlife or geo-diversity sites or landscape areas will be judged.

It states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by protecting and enhancing valued landscapes, geological conservation interests and soils; recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services; and minimising impacts on bio-diversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible.

Core Strategy Policy 18

Green Infrastructure seeks to manage and improve environmental resources. The important contribution landscape makes to an area's distinctiveness is also highlighted in Core Strategy Policy 21: Landscape Character Areas, and Policy 17: Design of New Buildings - which require new development to be well integrated into the landscape.

Biodiversity and Nature Conservation

All sites within international, national and local environmental designations are recognised by the Core Strategy and are afforded a level of protection from any adverse impacts of development through Core Strategy Policy 22: Biodiversity and Geodiversity.

Preston has an extensive network of sites important for biodiversity. These include Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), statutory sites of national conservation value. There is at present one SSSI, Red Scar and Tun Brook Woods SSSI, within Preston as shown on the Policies Map found in the documents section on this page.

Similarly, at the county and local level sites that make a significant contribution to the natural diversity of the Plan area and are worthy of protection in their own right are Biological Heritage Sites (BHS), Geological Heritage Sites (GHS) and Wildlife Corridors.

They form an important part of the nature conservation network and need to be protected from development that will cause fragmented networks or isolated habitats. Biological Heritage Sites (BHS) and Geological Heritage Sites (GHS) are identified on the Policies Map.

Protect, conserve and enhance designated sites

As well as the need to protect, conserve and enhance designated sites it is also important to protect, conserve and enhance nationally and locally important species that use a variety of sites/habitats as part of a nature conservation network.

Lancashire County Council is producing an Ecological Network covering the County, and this includes Preston.

Biodiversity has many important roles and functions including protecting biodiversity for its own sake, adapting to climate change, recreation, health and wellbeing. As part of a changing climate it is important to allow habitats and species the opportunities to adapt, making provision where possible.

Ecological networks form an important basis for this and it is the Council's view that these networks should be maintained and enhanced, where appropriate to allow habitats and species the best opportunity to adapt to a changing climate.

Priority Species

Priority species (as covered by Policy EN11) and habitats play an important role and are protected under European and National Law. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act came into force on 1 October 2006.

Section 41 (S.41) of the Act requires the Secretary of State to publish a list of habitats and species which are of principle importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England. The list has been drawn up in consultation with Natural England, as required by the Act.

The S41 list is used to guide decision-makers such as public bodies, including local authorities, in implementing their duty under section 40 of the NERC Act to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in England, when carrying out their normal functions.

Where species or habitats may come under threat, it is the developer's responsibility to carry out all necessary surveys. Ecology surveys need to be provided to assess the quality, quantity and value of biodiversity on site or near the site and how the development may affect biodiversity.

In certain cases development will not be permitted and in other cases mitigation/compensatory measures of at least equal area, quality and diversity will be required in order to reduce or overcome the impacts and where possible provide net gains or enhancements to improve Preston's nature conservation assets.

The Council will work with the other Central Lancashire authorities of Chorley and South Ribble and the Wildlife Trust, with a view to agreeing a Central Lancashire approach to nature conservation. This may be in the form of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

Species Protection

Nature conservation designations are not always related to sites. Part 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) sets out the protection that is given to specific wild animals and plants.

Every five years the list of protected species is reviewed. Some species, for example badgers, are given protection under their own legislation, the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

European protected species, which include all species of bats in Britain, are given additional protection under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. The presence of a protected species is a material consideration when considering development proposals.

The planning system has, therefore, an important role to play in the implementation of the legislation relating to protected species.

Criminal Offence

Amongst other things, it is an offence to damage the resting or breeding places of protected animals and to destroy protected plants.

Preston City Council may require applicants to commission a survey by a suitable specialist to identify the extent of the protected species on a site and to assess the effect of their proposals.

In some cases this may involve survey work at an appropriate time of the year. Natural England is consulted on any planning applications which would affect a protected species and Preston City Council has a duty to inform applicants of their obligations under the legislation which is additional to that provided by the planning system.

Priority will be given to the in situ conservation of protected species which can often be achieved through careful design, landscaping, timing and method of development. The option of translocation will only be considered where the benefits of the development outweigh the value of in situ conservation.

Government guidance is available for developers. Development affecting a European Protected Species will only be permitted where the requirements of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 can be met.

Planning conditions and, where appropriate, planning agreements will be used to secure suitable safeguards and management to sustain the population of the protected species. Where Preston City Council considers that satisfactory provisions have not been provided or cannot be achieved, then development will be considered inappropriate.

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