The global and national drivers for sustainability are clear and defined. We need economic growth but we must do this whilst achieving social development and environmental improvement. There is a need and an advantage for planning applications for new development to demonstrate that they are implementing the principles of sustainable development.
At the heart of the new planning system is ‘a presumption in favour of sustainable development’. This presumption can be a powerful tool and a window of opportunity under the right circumstances (see our Comment sheet on NPPF). Sustainability (NPPF style) is at the heart of the planning process.
Many Core Strategies contain policies requiring applications to demonstrate a range of sustainability metrics including carbon and energy budgets, sustainability statements and climate change assessments. Quite often these are needed for validation and so must be done efficiently, yet with a strong commercial and technical focus.
For certain applications there can be a real and demonstrable need for a robust sustainability strategy. Demonstrating that a site is in the right location and that it has good access to services, transport links and employment opportunities can be an important feature in demonstrating that a proposed development site is sustainable. In this scenario our sustainability team combines extensive knowledge of sustainability with a thorough understanding of the planning process to develop a robust, commercially and technically feasible sustainability strategy. We have provided such support to a number of projects across the UK ranging from commercial business parks to sustainable urban extensions.
It is also not unusual to find local planning policies setting sustainability and energy targets significantly higher than mandatory requirements such as the building regulations. Such policies are often technically and commercially challenging and should be addressed early in an application if they are to be mitigated. Often, we can demonstrate greater carbon savings through a ‘Fabric First’ approach compared to a policy requesting the use of renewable energy technologies. (see our renewable energy capability statement below).
We have also completed a number of projects associated with the allowable solutions concept. Almost all local planning authorities are developing their own allowable solutions delivery framework in advance of formal Government policy. Some are reasonable and some place a very high price on local carbon mitigation.
Regardless of the project-specific circumstances, we can provide the right blend of technical and commercial advice to ensure that sustainability makes a positive contribution to the planning balance.