7. Environment

Introduction

This Chapter deals with all aspects of the environment from protecting buildings in Conservation Areas to protecting areas of countryside from development.  The success of implementing other policies and proposals in this Plan relies on achieving a high quality environment in which residents want to live, work and visit. It is clear from the Key Issues consultation that the community places great value on the need to protect and enhance both the natural and built environment. 

Policies and Explanation

Green Belt

POLICY Env1 - Green Belt

Within the Green Belt development will not normally be permitted unless it is for:

  • Agriculture and forestry,
  • Essential facilities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation, for cemeteries and for other uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt, and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it.
  • Limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings
  • Limited infilling or redevelopment of major existing developed sites identified in adopted local plans.

The Borough’s Green Belt is part of the West Midlands Green Belt which performs the strategic function of:

  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas.
  • To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another.
  • To assist in safeguarding countryside from encroachment.
  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns.
  • To assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and otherurban land.

The Borough’s Green Belt is very sensitive as it helps maintain a significant area of open space between Nuneaton, Bedworth, Bulkington and Coventry. There is considerable pressure for development and only appropriate development as defined in the policy will be permitted in the Green Belt.

A key feature of Green Belt is it’s permanence and green belt boundaries should only be changed in exceptional circumstances. There are 4 (2 very minor and 2 major) changes proposed to the Green Belt as part of this Local Plan at:

  1. Bermuda, Nuneaton
  2. Hawkesbury, Exhall
  3. Coventry Colliery, Keresley – two major changes

At Bermuda, it is proposed that the Green Belt boundary should follow the approved alignment of Walsingham Drive.  At Hawkesbury, very minor alteration is required because of new development.  At Coventry Colliery a major change has occurred to enable the regeneration of Coventry Colliery.  This change was highlighted in the adopted Warwickshire County Structure Plan 2001 and development is being implemented in accordance with planning permissions granted.  A second, further change to the Green Belt is proposed at the former Coventry Colliery, to enable the extension of Prologis Park by some 4.5 hectares onto Green Belt land. This extension was proposed by the Inspector following the first Local Plan Public Inquiry, in response to objections received.  The land’s release will benefit from existing infrastructure serving that area and will contribute towards the Borough’s employment land requirement. The Green Belt boundaries are shown on the proposals map.

Encouragement will be given to the establishment of appropriate recreational uses within the Green Belt providing that it does not adversely affect the open character of the area and does not result in the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land.

In relation to redevelopment of existing sites planning permission exists for sheltered housing, and nursing home at an old hospital site in Hospital Lane, Bedworth.

PPG2 Green Belts states that the re-use of existing buildings within the Green Belt is not inappropriate development providing that safeguards detailed in that Guidance are followed.  PPS7 Sustainable Development in Rural Areas supports rural diversification in appropriate circumstances.   Para. 3.7 –3.10 of PPG2 suggests that the reuse of buildings should not prejudice the openness of the area since the buildings are already there and their reuse can help ensure the continuing stewardship of the land.  Thus subject to the provisions of PPG2 and PPS7, the re-use of buildings within the Green Belt is supported.

Areas of Restraint and Countryside – their future role

As part of the preparation of the Local Plan, a Public Inquiry was held in 2003 to consider the Second Deposit Local Plan. The Inspector’s report of that Inquiry stated that greater flexibility should be introduced into the Plan to allow for medium and longer-term development needs. With a compact Borough like Nuneaton and Bedworth, all areas outside of the urban area are open countryside of one designation or another. The Inspector stated that a clear landscape character assessment should be undertaken of those areas peripheral or within the urban areas / settlements and from that assessment those that warranted longer term protection could be identified. The Landscape Character Assessment assessed peripheral Areas of Restraint and the reports produced led to a more robust and focused policy and the areas by definition, meeting the revised policy purpose. Areas that were removed from the Area of Restraint designation have been encompassed within a Countryside Area designation that seeks to protect the open countryside characteristics of land outside of the urban area, whilst facilitating appropriate countryside land uses under the guidance of PPS7 ‘Sustainable Development in Rural Areas’. Recognising some areas of land have a strategic function and warrant longer term protection than other areas introduces the flexibility into this Local Plan that the Inspector sought.

In the unlikely event that the supply of housing or employment land identified in policies H1 and Emp1 fail to deliver those particular land requirements or as part or the review of the Local Plan - whichever is sooner - the Council will consider the availability of land for future development. This review is likely to include a timeframe that is compatible with the Regional Spatial Strategy.

A sequential approach will be followed to identify land suitable for future development, looking firstly to previously developed land within the urban area in accordance with the advice contained in PPG3.  PPG3 states that once the supply of land identified in the Urban Capacity Study has been considered the search should look towards urban extensions.  Extending the Borough’s urban areas would call into account five types of land designated in the Local Plan.  The search sequence to be applied would be to consider: first, previously developed land in the urban area; second, undeveloped land in the urban area; third, the Countryside areas; fourth, the Areas of Restraint; and finally, the Green Belt. In deciding which sites to allocate from this sequential search, the site’s potential for development will be assessed.  Housing land will be assessed against criteria listed in PPG3 (Para 31).  Guidance on employment land is currently under review.  In the interim, the ‘Employment Land Reviews’ document issued by ODPM (2004) provided the framework for the Borough’s own employment land survey. If having exhausted all previously developed and then greenfield land within the urban area, there are future employment land requirements, these should be met by extending the search for land to the countryside areas and then the Areas of Restraint, and finally Green Belt.  The results of the potential sites identified in the Borough’s employment land survey will need to be ordered for release to accord with this preferred sequence, also taking in account factors from the survey findings including suitability of the site, transport access, a site’s location within ‘policy areas’ e.g. the regeneration zone and any constraints to development.

Areas of Restraint

POLICY Env2 - Areas of Restraint

In Areas of Restraint, as defined on the Proposals Map, development will only be permitted where the development would not adversely affect the open character or appearance of the area, taking into account any possible cumulative effects. 

The overriding intention of Areas of Restraint (AoR) is to protect their inherently open character because of the valuable contribution they make to the character and structure of the towns. AoR do not have the permanence of the Green Belt and policy Env2 is not intended to restrict all forms of development within AoR. There is a wide range of activity supported by each of them, mainly of an agricultural or recreational nature. It is reasonable to allow these uses to be maintained and to take account of their needs. On that basis, various forms of ancillary development may be appropriate, including limited extension or alteration to existing buildings, small-scale facilities related to existing outdoor sport and recreation facilities, extensions to cemeteries and small-scale additions to existing groups of farm buildings.

The policy does not preclude other forms of development within AoR. Proposals will be assessed against this policy and other relevant policies of the Local Plan. All Areas of Restraint are also covered by the Countryside Policy Env3. In identifying areas that should be designated as AoR, the Council has had regard to areas that warrant longer-term protection because of their positive contribution to the character and structure of the towns, and which have clearly identifiable and defensible boundaries. Their character has been assessed in the 2004 Landscape Character Assessment and Policy review document. These documents will be used to support this policy and in considering whether a proposal for development adversely affects the open character and appearance of the designated area. On this basis, the following areas (as defined on the Proposals Map) are identified as AoR:

  1. Generally between Galley Common and Hartshill;
  2. Generally between Nuneaton and Hinckley (south of The Long Shoot, A47); and
  3. Generally between Nuneaton/Weddington and Hartshill (west of Weddington Lane and north of Judkins Quarry).

The Plan has allocated sufficient land to meet its development needs outlined within the Structure Plan until 2011. Through a process of monitoring and the production of an Annual Monitoring Report the Borough will continue to plan, monitor and manage its development needs longer-term i.e. beyond the Structure Plan to 2021 - the period covered by the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy.

Rural and Urban Countryside Policy

POLICY Env3 - Rural and Urban Countryside Policy

Planning permission will only be granted for development in the countryside if it:

  1. is necessary to meet the needs of farming, forestry, agriculture, recreation, tourism and other enterprises with an essential requirement to locate in the countryside; or
  2. represents a land use for which there is a demonstrable need which cannot be met within the urban area; or
  3. relates to the reuse of existing buildings, provided the proposed uses are generally acceptable in the countryside and in accordance with Env5; or
  4. relates to the limited extension or alteration of an existing building.

Development satisfying a, b, c or d above, will only be permitted provided that:

  1. It would not harm the overall character and quality of the countryside.
  2. The type and amount of traffic generated would not cause harm to the surroundings.
  3. It presents a sustainable opportunity for development.
  4. The design and materials of the development should be of a high standard in keeping with the scale and character of the locality; and
  5. the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land is minimised. 

The land outside the urban area is covered by policies that protect it from inappropriate development.  The countryside policy covers land where further development is considered unsustainable; and also the river valleys that extend from the wider countryside, penetrating the urban area. These often provide the nearest and most accessible countryside to urban residents.  PPS7 Sustainable Development in Rural Areas supports the use of the countryside for traditional land use based activities covered in the above criterion (a), although guidance is clear (as proviso (i) reiterates) that the quality and character of the wider countryside is protected and where possible, enhanced. The Government advises through PPS7 (Sustainable Development in Rural Areas) that the re-use of existing buildings is supported, with a preference being for economic development purposes.  Residential conversion in some circumstances may be appropriate in some locations and due to the type of building.  The reuse of appropriately located and suitably constructed existing buildings must represent a sustainable opportunity for development. Development in the Green Belt is covered by policy Env1.

Land at Bedworth Woodlands (allocated for residential development in a previous Local Plan and subsequently refused planning permission) is included in this Plan as an area of countryside.  The land was removed from the Green Belt in 1982 to meet development needs.  The Council will seek its inclusion once more in the West Midlands Green Belt in any review of the Regional Spatial Strategy subject to a justification being made at that time.

Climatic Change and Floodplains

POLICY Env4 - Climate Change and Floodplains

Development within areas of flood risk (as defined on the Proposals Map or in any subsequent Supplementary Planning Document) will not be permitted unless It can be demonstrated that:

  1. There is no suitable alternative site available outside a flood risk area which meets the sequential tests for permitting development, and
  2. Appropriate measures have been taken to mitigate against the risk from flooding within the development to life and property, and
  3. The development will not give rise to an increased risk of flooding to land and property off site.

Areas of flood risk are defined on maps which are provided and updated by the Environment Agency.  Development in flood plain areas can cause significant environmental problems. Development is not likely to be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that measures can successfully deal with any flooding risk.  It is clear that global warming is changing this country’s climate.  It is predicted that there will be more extremes of weather, drier summers and wetter winters.  This will have implications on flood risk.

Sites proposed for development will be considered in the following order (as set out in recent Government Guidance):

  1. areas with little flood risk (annual probability of less than 0.1%) suitable for all development, subject to other planning policies,
  2. areas with low risk of flooding (annual probability of 0.1% and 1% for rivers) suitable for non essential civil infrastructure,
  3. areas with high potential risk of flooding which are already extensively developed (annual probability of greater than 1% for rivers), suitable for non essential civil infrastructure provided that effective evacuation and warning mechanisms are in place and development does not add to flood risk down stream,
  4. areas with high potential risk of flooding which are not already developed (annual probability of greater than 1% for rivers), not suitable for residential or commercial uses, unless for water based activity,
  5. areas at the highest risk from flooding (including those behind defences where the standard of defence is less than 1% for rivers and there is a significant risk that failure could lead to rapid inundation by fast flowing water), suitable only for sport and recreational purposes.

Agriculture

POLICY Env5 - Agriculture

Farm diversification proposals to non-agricultural activities will be permitted if:

  1. It does not involve the construction of significant new buildings. The form, scale and general design of any new buildings is in keeping with their surroundings.
  2. It does not result in a loss of amenity to nearby residential properties.
  3. It does not detrimentally affect the open character and appearance of the area.
  4. It will not have an adverse impact on the free flow or safety of traffic on adjoining public highways.
  5. Any conversion of buildings respects local building styles and materials – in particular conversion of traditional farm buildings should not result in losing its characteristics and qualities.
  6. It does not cause pollution to local watercourses or groundwater.
  7. The development will not be detrimental to the ecological, geological or archaeological value of the area.  In particular it does not involve significant loss of habitat used by protected species.  When applications are submitted that affect existing buildings adequate survey information should be provided.
  8. The loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land on any particular holding, needed to enable the diversification project to function satisfactorily, is minimised.

Employment in agriculture has fallen steeply with more intensive farming methods. Farmers are increasingly diversifying to other activities to supplement their income, such as the creation of farm shops, food processing and packing.  Paragraphs 30 and 31 of PPS7 gives advice on potential farm diversification developments. The Council wishes to encourage the development of such activities provided that it does not adversely affect the character of the area and that existing buildings on site are used where possible.  Diversification can also support tourism initiatives in the Borough, for example: bed and breakfast accommodation and some recreational activities.

PPS7 ‘Sustainable Development in Rural Areas’ states that the presence of the best and most versatile agricultural land (defined as grades 1,2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification), should be taken into account alongside other sustainability considerations (e.g. biodiversity: the quality and character of the landscape; its amenity value or heritage interest; accessibility to infrastructure; workforce and markets; maintaining viable communities; and the protection of natural resources including soil quality) when determining planning applications. Where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, the use of poorer quality land (grades 3b, 4 and 5) in preference to that of higher quality will be sought, except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations. Should the Council be minded to allow the development of Greenfield land, where soil or agricultural quality is significant, advice will be sought from DEFRA and other relevant bodies including English Nature, the Environment Agency and English Heritage, along with others as appropriate. The Council will carefully weigh this advice. 

POLICY Env6 - New Agricultural Dwellings

New Agricultural Dwellings will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. There is a proven agricultural need for a dwelling on the site,
  2. The need relates to a worker who is primarily employed in agriculture, not to a part time need,
  3. The need could not be met by an existing nearby property or existing unit on the site,
  4. Other planning policies are met.

 

Applications for new agricultural dwellings will be carefully considered to prevent inappropriate development in the countryside.  Often it is just as convenient for agricultural workers to live in settlements near the farm.  Where a new dwelling can be justified a site which relates well to the existing farm buildings and reduces visual intrusion should be chosen.  A justification statement will be required with all applications for new agricultural dwellings.  Advice on the special considerations which may arise in relation to agricultural and forestry dwellings is given in Annex A of PPS7.  If a new dwelling is justified then this may be best achieved through the conversion of a redundant building on the holding rather than the construction of a new building.  Planning conditions will be used to prevent non-agricultural occupation.

Conservation Areas

POLICY Env7 - Conservation Areas

New development will not be permitted in Conservation Areas unless it conforms to the guidelines set out in the Conservation Area Policy Statements.  Five Conservation Areas have been designated in the Borough.

  • Nuneaton Town Centre
  • Bedworth Town Centre
  • Church Street, Bulkington
  • Manor Court Road, Nuneaton
  • Hawkesbury Junction

 

Conservation Areas are designated for their special quality of environment, not only for the buildings in the areas but also for the spaces that surround those buildings. 

The boundaries of the Conservation Areas are shown on the inset maps. A policy statement has been prepared for each Conservation Area setting out guidelines to ensure their protection and enhancement.

A Planning Application for new development within a Conservation Area must be accompanied by a design statement demonstrating how the development will preserve and enhance the character of the area.

Where appropriate further Conservation Areas will be considered for designation and a policy statement prepared.

Listed Buildings

POLICY Env8 - Listed Buildings

Development will not be permitted which adversely affects the appearance and character of a Listed Building, including any external and internal features of special architectural or historic interest, or its setting.

Alterations, extensions and changes of use to Listed Buildings will be permitted providing the following criteria can be met:

  1. The character, appearance and setting of the Building are not adversely affected both internally and externally.
  2. The proposed use if appropriate to the building and its setting.
  3. There is no loss of features of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed buildings are those recognised by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Heritage as being of special historical or architectural merit.  The character and setting of such buildings can be damaged by unsympathetic developments or alterations and extensions, even if the proposal is of a minor nature.  Careful consideration will be given to such proposals both internal and external to ensure that this special character is not damaged.  The Council will support proposals for alternative appropriate uses, where these will allow the building to remain in use.

POLICY Env9 - Demolition of Listed Buildings

Demolition of a Listed Building will not be permitted unless the following criteria can be met:

  1. It can be proven that there is no feasible alternative to the demolition.
  2. The development that replaces it is of outstanding quality.

Demolition of a Listed Building is considered to be the removal of the whole or substantially all of the building.  The Council will resist the demolition of Listed Buildings. It will only be permitted where the developer has proven that there is no alternative to its loss and that the replacement development is of outstanding quality.

The Council will maintain a register of Listed Buildings at risk and will take action where feasible to secure the repair and retention of these buildings. 

Locally Listed Buildings

POLICY Env10 - Locally Listed Buildings

Development involving the complete or partial loss of a locally listed building will be resisted unless it can be demonstrated there is no alternative to its loss or that the benefits of the development outweigh any resulting harm. Any replacement development must be of high quality in terms of design and use of materials. 

The Council has prepared a list of local buildings (included in appendices) that are of historic and / or architectural importance to the Borough.  Further buildings may be added to this list if the following criteria can be met: -

  1. The building is authentic, substantially unaltered and retains many of its original features
  2. The building is of architectural or vernacular significance in that it is a good example of a local building type, craftsmanship, architectural quality, style or detailing.
  3. The building is of historical significance, displaying evidence of local economic, technical or social significance, or relating to well-known people or historical events.

Locally Listed Buildings do not enjoy the statutory protection that Listed Buildings do. However, because of their local contribution to the character of the area, every effort will be made to preserve them. Article 4 Directions may be considered to protect them from demolition without the prior consent of the Council. The Council will notify owners in writing of the inclusion of their building(s) on the Local List.

Historic Parks and Gardens

POLICY Env11 - Historic Parks and Gardens

Development that adversely affects Historic Parks or Gardens or their setting will not be permitted. 

The Borough has two Registered Historic Park and Gardens, one at Arbury Hall and the other at Bedworth Cemetery. It is believed that Arbury Hall is the only Stately Home in Britain to have a private system of canals running through the gardens.  Development that adversely affects the character or setting of these historic parks and gardens will not be permitted.  Any application for development, which affects a registered park or garden or their setting, will need to include a historic landscape appraisal report.

Archaeology

POLICY Env12 - Archaeology

The Local Planning Authority will aim to ensure that sites of archaeological importance and their settings are protected, enhanced and preserved.  There will be a presumption in favour of the physical in situ preservation of remains of national importance, whether Scheduled or otherwise.  Developers will be expected to assist in that process where such remains are affected by development proposals. Development which would adversely affect such remains will not be permitted.

In the case of remains of regional or local importance the Local Planning Authority will assess the case for in situ preservation against other factors including the importance of the remains and the need for the proposed development.

Those proposing development on sites which may contain important archaeological remains will need to provide the Council with the results of an archaeological assessment/field evaluation with their planning application.  Failure to supply such an appraisal may delay the progress of the application, or lead to the refusal of planning permission

The Council recognises the importance of archaeological remains in the cultural heritage of the Borough and considers that priority should be given to their in-situ preservation to retain them for further generations, bearing in mind that they form a finite, non-renewable resource.  The Government places emphasis on in situ preservation and this approach is detailed in PPG16 “Archaeology and Planning”.

Though archaeological fieldwork is becoming more common in the Borough there has been relatively little recording in the past.  For this reason it is only in recent years that the full archaeological potential of the Borough has begun to emerge.  The character of the landscape indicates that many important sites remain undisturbed, particularly beneath agricultural land and urban open spaces.  In addition the value of the Borough’s industrial heritage and its importance to the historic character of the area has only recently been fully recognised.

A small number of sites have been designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments.  These are indicated on the Proposals Map and are Nuneaton Priory (SAM 17005) and the Moated Site at Exhall Hall (SAM 30050).  They are subject to special protection afforded by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 which imposes stringent controls on works affecting these Monuments.  The Warwickshire Sites and Monuments Record, maintained by Warwickshire County Council, holds extensive information on several hundred sites within the Borough.  Information on these can be obtained from the Sites and Monuments Record at the Warwickshire Museum.

The onus is on those considering development to consult the Sites and Monuments Record at an early stage to ascertain whether their intended site is likely to contain any archaeological remains.  If this initial consultation indicates the likelihood of remains, then further investigation should be undertaken, utilising archaeological expertise.  In some cases this will require a field evaluation involving a ground survey and trial trenching.  Submission of a planning application should not be made to the Council until the results of archaeological investigations are available and can be included with the application.  On sites where the Warwickshire Museum consider there to be the likelihood of archaeological remains of significance, the Council is unlikely to support planning applications in the absence of full information concerning archaeology.

The current list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments does not include all sites and monuments of national importance.  The Sites and Monuments Record can supply information on other sites and monuments of archaeological significance in the Borough, together with further details on Scheduled sites.

POLICY Env13 - Archaeology Not Meriting In Situ Preservation

Where the Council considers, in the light of expert advice, that in situ preservation of archaeological remains is not merited, it will need to be satisfied, prior to the grant of planning permission, that appropriate provision for an agreed programme of archaeological works has been made by the developer.

Where it is clear that the site is likely to contain only archaeological remains of lesser importance, the Local Planning Authority may be satisfied with arrangements which enable a watching brief and recording to be undertaken by an archaeologist approved by the Authority.

Archaeology is amongst a range of material considerations which have a bearing on the outcome of planning applications.  Although accepting in principle the great importance of in situ preservation of archaeological remains, the Council also accepts that there may be exceptional cases where a development scheme will be of particular environmental and social benefit such as to outweigh archaeological objections which are unable to be surmounted by amendments to the proposed design and construction of the development.

In these circumstances, the Council will secure a programme of archaeological investigation to be undertaken at the developers’ expense.  The Authority may seek to negotiate a formal agreement under the terms of Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, or may grant planning permission subject to a condition requiring implementation of a programme of archaeological works prior to development.  Where the nature of archaeological remains is such that a condition presents difficulties in terms of specification, implementation and/or monitoring, planning permission may be refused.

Supplementary Planning Guidance / Supplementary Planning Documents

POLICY Env14 - Supplementary Planning Guidance / Documents

The design and materials of all development should be of a high standard in keeping with the scale and character of the locality. All development should comply with Supplementary Planning Guidance and / or Supplementary Planning Documents produced by the Borough and County Council, where detailed guidance is considered necessary. 

The Council has approved a number of Supplementary Planning Guidance documents that guide the design of developments.  This includes guidance on advertisements, extensions and alterations to residential properties, and highway requirements. Whilst the guidance is prepared to aid good quality design it is not intended to stifle innovative design. 

Landscaping

POLICY Env15 - Landscaping

Areas of woodland and other trees covered by Preservation Orders, and within Conservation Areas, will be protected. The loss of a tree covered by an Order or within a Conservation Area will only be permitted where it can be shown :

  1. It is dead, dying or dangerous; or
  2. Its loss is agreed as part of a positive management scheme; or
  3. Its loss is agreed as part of a development scheme; or
  4. It does not reduce the Borough’s biodiversity resource.

Replacement trees will normally be required.  The Council will seek opportunities to encourage further woodland planting.

Trees covered by Preservation Orders are of significant quality and make a valuable contribution to the visual amenity of the area.    Trees in Conservation Areas are also an integral part of the character of the area.  However, it is recognised that there will be some circumstances where trees will have to be removed.  Veteran trees, including those that are dying or dead, can be of very high nature conservation importance and some are designated as Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation.  Applications for their removal should be accompanied by a detailed arboricultural statement justifying its removal.  New woodland planting can add to the amenity of an area and also help reduce air pollution.  However, new woodland planting should only be located in areas where damage to existing habitats, species and the Borough’s archaeological sites can be avoided.  New woodland should be of native species.

Hedgerows

POLICY Env16 - Hedgerows

Development which has an adverse impact on “Important” hedgerows will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated there is no alternative to any loss.  In those circumstances replacement hedgerows will be required.

“Important” hedgerows are those defined in the Hedgerows Regulations 1997.  These Regulations require the submission of a hedgerow removal notice before a hedgerow can be removed, subject to certain circumstances which does allow removal.   Where a removal notice is received the Council has the opportunity to issue a hedgerow retention notice prohibiting the removal of ahedgerow which meets any of the criteria of importance in the Regulations.

Hedgerows are very important because of their nature conservation value, their contribution to the visual amenity of the area and historic connections.

Nature Conservation

POLICY Env17 - Nature Conservation

Consideration of development proposals that would affect, or would be likely to affect, nature conservation sites will be proportionate to the status of the site in the following manner:

  • Development not directly connected with or necessary to the management of a European site, a proposed European site or a RAMSAR site, and which may have a significant effect on a site (whether on its own or in combination with other proposals) will be subject to the most rigorous examination.  Where an adverse impact on the integrity of a site cannot be ruled out development will not be permitted unless there is no alternative solution and there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest why the development should proceed
  • Development likely to affect Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) will be subject to special scrutiny. Development that may have an adverse effect on a SSSI will not be permitted unless the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the interests of site designation and the national policy to safeguard the network of such sites
  • Development likely to have an adverse effect on a Local Nature Reserve (LNR), Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC), Regionally Important Geological / Geomorphological Site, (RIGS) or other site of acknowledged importance will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the reasons for the development outweigh the need to safeguard the substantive nature conservation value of the site or feature
  • Development likely to have an adverse effect on a Wildlife Site or other habitat or geological feature identified on the Council’s Green Map will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the reasons for the development outweigh the need to retain the site or features and that adequate consideration has been given to the protection, enhancement or reinstatement of the nature conservation or geological interest.

Where development is permitted the Council will seek to secure management arrangements for the protection and enhancement of the nature conservation or geological interest by means of conditions on the grant of planning permission, planning obligations or voluntary agreement as appropriate.

The Council seeks to ensure that the Borough’s key nature conservation and geological assets are protected. The most important biodiversity sites are internationally designated and include European Sites (candidate Special Areas of Conservation (cSACs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)), Ramsar sites and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) (where they have been designated as a site of international importance). These sites are afforded statutory protection, and will be identified on the Borough Proposals Map. The Borough currently has:

  • One European site, a candidate Special Area of Conservation, at Ensor’s Pool
  • Two SSSIs, at Ensor’s Pool and Griff Hill Quarry
  • Three LNRs, at Ensor’s Pool, Bedworth Sloughs and Galley Common
  • Five SINCs, and over 50 potential SINCs
  • Four RIGs, at Newdigate Colliery mineral railway cutting, Stockingford railway cutting, Midland Quarry and Judkins Quarry.

These sites are identified on the Council’s Green Map and are graded A, B or C.  The Council, with the Warwickshire Coventry and Solihull Habitat Biodiversity Audit Partnership, is currently reviewing all areas of nature conservation interest within the Borough to evaluate and designate SINCs.  This review should be completed within five years. During the review potential SINCs will be given the same protection as designated SINCs.  Following the review it is anticipated that new SINCs will be designated, and any for which the qualifying criteria are found to no longer apply will be downgraded. The Green Map will be revised and adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document.  The Local Plan Proposals Map shows the boundaries of the two SSSi’s and the cSAC.

The Council also recognises that the natural heritage is not confined to designated sites.  Other features, which are not specifically covered in other policies, include ponds and lakes, aged or ‘veteran’ trees, small woods, linear belts of trees, plantations, grassland, road verges, and railway lines.  These can provide wildlife corridors, links and stepping stones that help to maintain the range and diversity of habitats, geology and species.  The Council will have regard to the importance of protecting such features when determining planning applications.

POLICY Env18 - Planning Obligations and Biodiversity Action Plans

Development and other land use changes that are likely to affect rare, endangered species of nature conservation importance; or a species protected by law will not be permitted. In determining applications for planning permission for other development the presence of other species identified in a UK or Local Biodiversity Action Plan will be a material consideration. Where development is permitted the Council will consider the use of conditions and / or planning obligations to secure all compensatory measures necessary to protect, reduce disturbance to and / or provide alternative habitats for the species in order to sustain or enhance the population. 

The Council recognises its responsibilities to afford protection to Internationally, European and Nationally Protected species and habitats.  Therefore, additional information on these species may be requested prior to permitting development.  Species of conservation importance include the following: Species listed in relevant Schedules of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended; the Badgers Act 1992; species listed in the relevant sections of the Habitats Directive, the Bern convention or any other relevant international treaty, national legislation or European directive.  It will also include Red Data Book species and Nationally Notable or Scarce Species or birds listed in the Royal Society for Protection of Birds Red List.  The Local Biodiversity Action Plan is currently being prepared and will be incorporated into this policy as it is produced.  In considering planning applications that may affect European Protected Species, the Council is bound by Regulation 3(4) of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations 1994 to have regard to the Habitats directive when exercising their functions.  Proposals affecting European Protected Species must pass three tests before they may derogate from the protection afforded by the Habitats Directive and the Conservation Regulations 1994.  The three tests are: 

  1. That the development is “in the interests of public health and public safety, or for other imperative reasons of overriding public interest, including those of a social or economic nature and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment”.
  2. That there is no satisfactory alternative” and
  3. That the derogation is “not detrimental to the maintenance of the populations of the species concerned at a favourable conservation status in their natural range”.

POLICY Env19 - Environmental Education and Enhancement

Access to and awareness of the natural environment will be promoted where educational opportunities exist and where access would allow enhancement of these facilities. 

Opportunities to develop environmental education and enhancement schemes will be pursued by the Council on appropriate sites.

Rivers and Canals

POLICY Env20 - Rivers and Canals

Development which fronts rivers and canals in the Borough should be of a high standard of design and take advantage of the vista across the river or canal. Improvements may be required to the river embankments and canal banks as part of the development.   Where appropriate, the enhancement of rivers, canals and their environs will be secured through Section 106 Agreements.  Development will not be permitted within a minimum of 8 metres of the bank tops of all watercourses.   Development will not be permitted where it prejudices existing Wharf facilities.  A buffer strip may also be required adjacent to canals. 

Development fronting onto bodies of water is highly desirable and will be required to be of a high standard. Where appropriate development will be expected to contribute to improvements to the embankments and canal banks and this will be covered in Section 106 obligations.  Maintenance of an 8 metre buffer adjacent to rivers and will be expected.  This buffer is multi-functional and will not only form wildlife corridors for habitat protection but also ease flooding issues by creating floodplain and providing access to the watercourse for any channel maintenance required.  The Council will encourage measures which seek to enhance the surroundings of the River Anker. 

Recycling

POLICY Env21 - Recycling

All major development will be required to allow for recycling facilities, in particular container banks for glass, paper, textiles and tins (both steel and aluminium). 

Both the Council and private contractors provide container banks. There is a need to provide more facilities in the Borough to help reduce waste disposal and increase the use of reusable materials. Within major commercial and residential developments, sites should be made available for these facilities. It is unlikely that this requirement will apply to sites of less than one hectare, but each proposal will be assessed on its merits in relation to the nature and volume of waste likely to arise from it, in liaison with the Waste Planning Authority.  Where recycling facilities are to be provided their form, location and screening must take account of the need to mitigate any potential adverse effects on the amenities of occupiers of the site and of adjoining land.  As Waste Planning Authority, Warwickshire County Council has responsibility for waste management.  However, this Council wishes to encourage developers of major Planning Applications to contribute to improving sustainability in the Borough.  Reference should be made to Warwickshire County Council’s Waste Local Plan for further advice on recycling.

Security

POLICY Env22 - Security

The design of development should encourage a high level of personal and community safety.  A statement will be required with a planning application for major developments to demonstrate what design and other measures have been included. 

The planning system can have some influence upon the environment in which crime and the fear of crime occur. Sensitive design and laying out of buildings can help to reduce crime and the fear of crime. The Council will expect developers to include a statement with any major development for housing or commercial uses detailing how designing out crime has been incorporated into their design.

It is unlikely that this requirement will apply to housing developments of 10 dwellings or less, or to commercial developments comprising a single building or user.  Developers are encouraged to establish with the Council whether a statement will be required before making an application for detailed planning permission.

Telecommunications

POLICY Env23 - Telecommunications

Telecommunication equipment will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. For new masts a statement has been submitted with the application indicating whether mast sharing has been considered; why the erection of the equipment is not appropriate on other existing structures such as buildings and pylons; and how and why the location chosen is the most appropriate.
  2. The mast is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible consistent with its purpose and, whether individually or cumulatively, does not have a materially adverse visual impact on the landscape or townscape.
  3. Any equipment cabins and ancillary equipment are located in the least sensitive location.

In considering the location of new masts and equipment, mast sharing should be considered first.  Where there would be no or minimal detrimental effects from the cumulative amount of masts, use of existing buildings and structures should be considered if mast sharing is not possible.

Government Policy as set out in PPG8 Telecommunications is to facilitate the growth of new and existing telecommunications systems whilst keeping the environmental impact to a minimum. This policy will form the basis for consideration of applications for planning permission or prior approval. 

PPG8 refers to the regard that the Council as planning authority should have to any technical constraints on the location and proposed development.  Material considerations include the significance of the proposed development as part of a national network.  In making an application for planning permission or prior approval, operators may be expected to provide evidence regarding the need for the proposed development.

Telecommunication masts and ancillary buildings/equipment have recently been under scrutiny for their possible risk to health. However, the Government has made it clear that if the proposed development meets the ICNIRP guidelines (as recommended by the Stewart report on a precautionary basis), it should not be necessary for a Planning Authority in processing an application to consider the health effects further.  So the Council should not refuse consent on the basis of perceived health risks.   Masts can be visually intrusive and should be carefully sited to minimise their impact upon nearby residents.   The masts should be designed to be as unobtrusive as possible.  Good and innovative design is encouraged.  Where appropriate landscaping will be expected to minimise the impact of masts and equipment cabins.  In selecting sites that are in an unobtrusive location, and in any landscaping proposals designated natural or cultural heritage sites are to be avoided.  Masts and equipment should not be sited on Green Belt sites unless it can be shown there are no alternative sites in which case the development may be considered as special circumstances to allow a departure from Green Belt policies.

POLICY Env24 - Radio Masts on Residential Property

Radio masts and Citizens Band aerials on residential properties will not be permitted unless the following criteria can be met:

  1. There are no other masts on the property.
  2. The mast has been designed to be the least intrusive design.
  3. The mast does not dominate the street scene or have an overbearing effect upon neighbouring properties.

Radio masts and Citizens Band aerials can be intrusive features in the streetscape and will only be permitted if their impact is not significant.  For sites within or close to conservation areas, particular care should be taken with the siting of masts to preserve the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.  Aerials and masts will not normally be permitted on Listed Buildings unless they do not have a detrimental impact upon the appearance and character of the building and its setting. 

Pollution

POLICY Env25 - Pollution

Development on contaminated land will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. The land is capable of effective, timely, and safe remediation, to the extent that the land is suitable.
  2. Appropriate remediation works would eliminate risks to human health (on site and off site) controlled waters, ecosystems, buildings, animals and crops, in its proposed use.
  3. The proposal conforms with other Local Plan policies.

Whilst the majority of the Borough is relatively free of contaminated land, there remains a legacy of contamination on some sites from their previous use.  To prevent development on greenfield sites the Council will encourage the development of contaminated land.

However this will only be where the potential risks can be eliminated and the proposal conforms to other Local Plan policies. The Council’s Environmental Health Services are currently completing a Contaminated Land Strategy which will identify areas of contaminated land.

POLICY Env26 - Up Lighting

The use of “up lighting” techniques on buildings will be discouraged in the interests of maintaining dark skies. Where lighting is essential for security purposes lights should be sensitively positioned and the minimum wattage bulb or filament used. 

Up lighting is a common way of highlighting a feature of importance or a landmark building, in particular within Town Centres. Whilst the outcome may be making a feature of an important building, a side effect can be light polluting the skies. 

The use of sensitive down lighting with a reflective hood is the preferred option. Often these types of lights can be effectively used on listed buildings and in conservation areas with no significant impact upon the appearance of the building or area.

Cemeteries

POLICY Env27 - Cemeteries

Land off Eastboro Way, Nuneaton, and Heath Road, Bedworth are allocated for cemetery purposes as identified on the Proposals Map.  The Council will investigate using part of these allocations for “green” burials and has also allocated land off Church Lane, Exhall which may also include land for “green” burials. 

The Borough has land available for approximately 10 years of burials at the current rate. However, sites need to be identified in this Plan for future requirements.  3 hectare sites have been identified in Nuneaton and Bedworth.

The Council will investigate using part of these allocations for “green” burials, i.e. sites of burials are marked by the planting of a tree rather than a headstone.  A site at Exhall has been allocated to include “green” burials.  The review of burial grounds within this and any alternative locations in Exhall will be kept under review pending needs and the land requirements of adjacent uses.

Renewable Energy

POLICY Env28 - Renewable Energy

Proposals for the development of renewable sources of energy will be permitted providing they:

  1. Do not have any significant adverse environmental impacts; and
  2. Do not conflict with other policies in the Plan.

Government Policy as highlighted in PPS 22, is to stimulate the exploitation and development of renewable energy sources wherever they have prospects of being economically attractive and environmentally acceptable. The development of new and renewable energy sources brings opportunities for increased diversity and security of power supply, as well as reducing emissions of harmful ‘greenhouse gases’ which contribute to global warming.

PPS22 “Renewable Energy” encourages Local Authorities to explore renewable sources of energy. The Government in its Energy White Paper “Our energy future – creating a low carbon economy” identifies its aspiration to generate 20% of UK electricity from renewable sources by 2020, double the previous target of 10% by 2010, and suggests that still more renewable energy will be needed beyond 2020. The potential within the Borough to contribute to the supply of energy from renewable sources is exemplified by the use of landfill gas at Judkins Quarry to generate electricity for the National Grid. In the interests of making the Borough as sustainable as possible, alternative methods of power for new development should be investigated. Technologies such as solar panels, biomass heating, small scale wind turbines, photovoltaic cells and combined heat and power schemes can be incorporated into both new developments and some existing buildings. Statements with Planning Applications should demonstrate how this is to be achieved.  The Council will also encourage community level renewable energy projects which may be small scale but are community based and benefit local people and organisations.  Any schemes must be sensitive to the environment and landscape in which they are sited. 

Sustainable Land Drainage

POLICY Env29 - Sustainable Land Drainage

The use of sustainable drainage systems will be encouraged where appropriate. 

The disposal of surface water run-off from development both during construction and after completion requires careful consideration in order to minimise its adverse environmental impacts.  The traditional practice for the disposal of surface water is to pipe the water away to the nearest watercourse in order to ensure rapid disposal.  This can lead to increased risk of flooding, aquifers not being recharged, water retention in subsoil being reduced leading to increased use of treated water for horticulture, and increase the risk of transmission of pollutants to watercourses.

Current best practise favours controlling the release of rainwater as close to its point of fall as possible in order to minimise these negative environmental impacts.  This is known as “source control”.  A variety of techniques are available, often called Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDs).

There are two types of SUDs: “procedural” which prescribes good practice during the course of construction; and “structural” which are permanent features, integral to the design and construction of development which dispose of surface water as near to its point of fall as possible.

Procedural SUDs would for example include ensuring that during the course of development damage or pollution does not occur to the water environment, e.g. through erosion to river banks, flooding or pollution of water from any material including silts.  Siltation of the water environment caused during construction can cause considerable damage to the water environment and the wildlife it supports and developers should pay particular attention to the protection of watercourses and associated wetlands during this phase of development.

Structural SUDs for surface water disposal would include such methods as swales, soakage lagoons, reed beds, retention basins, filter strips, infiltration and permeable paving.

There is still some uncertainty surrounding legal aspects of SUDs relating to their adoption.  Moreover, in some cases the extent to which relevant bodies are prepared to take responsibility for long term maintenance of certain types of feature remain to be fully clarified.  There is also some concern that the promotion of the use of SUDs could progress to a premature requirement that they be used before all the long term consequences are fully understood.
Nevertheless, provided that it would not give rise to any adverse environmental impact, the Council and the Environment Agency support the use of the source control approach in the design of new development since, in the majority of cases, it is the most appropriate means of surface water disposal. However, the Environment Agency is highly unlikely to permit soakaways through sites known to be contaminated. Nevertheless, source control should be an integral part of the design of most new development and developers should, in the first instance, seek to incorporate both procedural and structural source control SUDs for surface water disposal into development proposals.  These should be submitted to and agreed by the Council prior to consent being issued.  Properly designed, such features will provide protection against flooding and pollution and aid in replenishment of water resources.  They can also increase the amenity of a proposal thereby increasing its intrinsic value, and provide areas of wildlife enhancement.

Public Art

POLICY Env30 - Public Art

The Council will seek opportunities to encourage public art as a desirable element of good design in new developments. Where relevant, the Council will welcome section 106 obligations to secure provision at the appropriate time and location. It is important that public art is considered at the outset of a scheme and not as an afterthought. 

It is important that public art is considered at the outset of a scheme and not as an afterthought.  Public art can be in many different forms but can help to bring interest and identity to a locality.  A stimulating environment can increase the feeling of wellbeing and pride in a community.  It can also help to attract investment and assist tourism initiatives. Public art is one form in which a development can make a positive and proportionate contribution to the new environment which it helps to create.  In appropriate cases the Council may wish to negotiate its provision in lieu of or to complement other facets of environmental mitigation or enhancement related to the development, either on or off site, in accordance with the guidance in Circular 05/2005, ‘Planning Obligations.’

Other Development

POLICY Env31 - Other Development

In areas where there are no specific proposals or policies to guide development, the Council will have regard to the merits of the proposals, their impact on nearby land uses, the provisions of the Structure Plan and other material considerations to ensure a properly planned area. 

Extensive parts of the Borough are not identified for development and are likely to remain unchanged. Development will inevitably be proposed for some of these areas during the plan period and the cumulative effect of these developments needs to be carefully monitored. When considering such proposals the Council will have regard to the merits of the proposal and any other material considerations. The Council’s aim is not to stifle change but to ensure that where it does occur it does not change the character of the locality to the detriment of the public interest.

Landfill Gas

POLICY Env32 - Landfill Gas

The Council will strictly control the location of residential and other development, on or in close proximity to existing or former landfill sites.  Permission will not be granted for development where there is considered to be any risk to the development from the migration of landfill gases.

The Council will, in consultation with the Environment Agency, resist residential building within 50 metres and residential garden areas within 10 metres of the boundary of any area of infilled waste.

Any proposals that are permitted will be subject to conditions that ensure adequate precautionary measures are in place to ensure the long-term safety of the structures and their occupants. 

PPS23, Planning and Pollution Control, clearly guides Local Authorities to take account of the possible effects on health and the environment of contaminated land.  The Guidance generally encourages the reuse of contaminated land however this can impact on the migration of landfill gas for which there needs to be a risk assessment and the preparation of any remedial measures to ensure public safety.

The identification of contaminated land is the first step in assisting applicants, and the Council’s Contaminated Land Strategy, being prepared by the Council’s Environmental Health Service will do this.  The Council will work with the Environment Agency and advise applicants on the location of contaminated land and where landfill gas issues are apparent, will require risk assessments with the submission of any planning applications.  Where the Environment Agency and Council are satisfied that these risks can be addressed through remediation works, conditions will be attached to any planning permission granted.

Safeguarding Water Resources

POLICY Env33 - Safeguarding Water Resources

Planning permission will not be granted for development which:

  1. Results in demand for water that cannot be adequately met without detriment to existing uses.
  2. Has a detrimental effect on water quality in watercourses and groundwater.

Developments that could have significant environmental effects in terms of atmospheric, water, noise or other forms of pollution that would be harmful to communities or the environment will not be permitted.

The sustainable use of water within developments, through methods of reducing water consumption or recycling, should be explored though the design stages of a proposal.  Thus, all users of water, in particular intense users, are expected to reasonably research supply and efficiency with statutory bodies including the Environment Agency and Water Authorities.  Identifying areas of adequate water resources, and where they can be made available without detriment to the water environment should be key stages prior to intense water users (including large scale housing and employment development) submitting planning applications.

Water conservation measure including recycling and water efficient devices should be considered as part of all development proposals where water resources are used. 

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