The Local Plan for the Broads: Issues and Options Consultation
6. Policy context
6.1 National Planning Policy Framework 2021 | 6.2 National Planning Policy Guidance | 6.3 UK Marine Policy Statement | 6.4 East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans | 6.5 National Parks Circular | 6.6 Broads Plan 2017 | 6.7 Current Broads Planning Policy Documents | 6.8 Neighbouring Local Planning Authority Planning Policy Documents | 6.9 Norfolk Strategic Planning Framework | 6.10 Neighbourhood Plans | 6.11 Biodiversity Net Gain | 6.12 Nutrient neutrality | 6.13 Recreation Avoidance Mitigation Strategy
6.1 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2021)
The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the Government’s planning policies for England and how these should be applied. It provides a framework within which locally-prepared plans for housing and other development can be produced.
The NPPF is a comprehensive document which covers a range of issues. The key issues for the purposes of this report, setting out the broad context of plan making, are below.
Paragraph 11 sets out the presumption in favour of sustainable development:
11. Plans and decisions should apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development. For plan-making this means that:
a) all plans should promote a sustainable pattern of development that seeks to: meet the development needs of their area; align growth and infrastructure; improve the environment; mitigate climate change (including by making effective use of land in urban areas) and adapt to its effects;
b) strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas6, unless:
i. the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area7; or
ii. any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole.
There are two footnotes that need to be read with paragraph 11.
6 As established through statements of common ground (see paragraph 27).
7 The policies referred to are those in this Framework (rather than those in development plans) relating to: habitats sites (and those sites listed in paragraph 180) and/or designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; land designated as Green Belt, Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a National Park (or within the Broads Authority) or defined as Heritage Coast; irreplaceable habitats; designated heritage assets (and other heritage assets of archaeological interest referred to in footnote 67); and areas at risk of flooding or coastal change.
Paragraph 176 is contained within the section on conserving and enhancing the natural environment in the NNPF. It states:
176. Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues. The conservation and enhancement of wildlife and cultural heritage are also important considerations in these areas, and should be given great weight in National Parks and the Broads59. The scale and extent of development within all these designated areas should be limited, while development within their setting should be sensitively located and designed to avoid or minimise adverse impacts on the designated areas.
Guidance and background on the National Parks and Broads is provided in a Circular and attention is drawn to this in Footnote 59:
59 English National Parks and the Broads: UK Government Vision and Circular 2010 provides further guidance and information about their statutory purposes, management and other matters.
Paragraph 177 goes on to say:
177. When considering applications for development within National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, permission should be refused for major development60 other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest. Consideration of such applications should include an assessment of:
a) the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;
b) the cost of, and scope for, developing outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and
c) any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.
It is worth noting that ‘major development’ is not defined and footnote 60 makes it clear that this determination is a matter for the LPA:
60 For the purposes of paragraphs 176 and 177, whether a proposal is ‘major development’ is a matter for the decision maker, taking into account its nature, scale and setting, and whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated or defined.
6.2 National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) (ongoing)
The NPPG guidance is intended to assist practitioners. Ultimately the interpretation of legislation is for the Courts, but this guidance is an indication of the Secretary of State’s views. Planning practice guidance will be updated as needed. The guidance covers the following topics (as at April 2022):
- Air quality
- Appropriate assessment
- Before submitting an application
- Brownfield land registers
- Build to rent
- Climate change
- Community Infrastructure Levy
- Consultation and pre-decision matters
- Crown development
- Design: process and tools
- Determining a planning application
- Effective use of land
- Enforcement and post-permission matters
- Environmental Impact Assessment
- Fees for planning applications
- Fire safety and high-rise residential buildings (from 1 August 2021)
- First Homes
- Flexible options for planning permissions
- Flood risk and coastal change
- Green Belt
- Hazardous substances
- Healthy and safe communities
- Historic environment
- Housing and economic land availability assessment
- Housing and economic needs assessment
- Housing needs of different groups
- Housing for older and disabled people
- Housing: optional technical standards
- Housing supply and delivery
- Land affected by contamination
- Land stability
- Lawful development certificates
- Light pollution
- Making an application
- Natural environment
- Neighbourhood planning
- Open space, sports and recreation facilities, public rights of way and local green space
- Permission in principle
- Planning obligations
- Renewable and low carbon energy
- Rural housing
- Self-build and custom housebuilding
- Strategic environmental assessment and sustainability appraisal
- Town centres and retail
- Transport evidence bases in plan making and decision taking
- Travel Plans, Transport Assessments and Statements
- Tree Preservation Orders and trees in conservation areas
- Use of planning conditions
- Water supply, wastewater and water quality
- When is permission required?
6.3 UK Marine Policy Statement (2011)
The UK Marine Policy Statement (MPS) is the framework for preparing Marine Plans and taking decisions affecting the marine environment. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 requires all public authorities taking authorisation or enforcement decisions that affect or might affect the UK marine area to do so in accordance with the MPS unless relevant considerations indicate otherwise.
6.4 East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans (2014)
The East Inshore Marine Plan area includes the coastline stretching from Flamborough Head to Felixstowe, extending from mean high water out to 12 nautical miles, including inland areas such as the Broads and other waters subject to tidal influence, and covers an area of 6,000 square kilometres. The East Offshore Marine Plan area covers the marine area from 12 nautical miles out to the maritime borders with the Netherlands, Belgium and France, a total of approximately 49,000 square kilometres of sea.
Vision for East Marine Plan Areas in 2034: By 2034 sustainable, effective and efficient use of the East Inshore and East Offshore Marine Plan Areas has been achieved, leading to economic development while protecting and enhancing the marine and coastal environment, offering local communities new jobs, improved health and wellbeing. As a result of an integrated approach that respects other sectors and interests, the East Marine Plan areas are providing a significant contribution, particularly through offshore wind, to the energy generated in the United Kingdom and to targets on climate change.
6.5 National Parks Circular (2010)
While the National Parks and the Broads are established under two separate Acts of Parliament, the similarities between them are such that this National Parks Circular applies equally to them all. It sets out:
- a vision for the English National Parks and the Broads for 2030;
- the key outcomes the Government is seeking over the next five years to ensure early progress towards the vision and suggested actions for achieving those outcomes;
- the key statutory duties of the National Park Authorities (‘NPAs’) and the Broads Authority (together ‘the Authorities’) and how they should be taken forward;
- policy on governance of the Authorities;
- the contributions needed from others.
Vision for the English National Parks and the Broads:
By 2030 English National Parks and the Broads will be places where:
- There are thriving, living, working landscapes notable for their natural beauty and cultural heritage. They inspire visitors and local communities to live within environmental limits and to tackle climate change. The wide-range of services they provide (from clean water to sustainable food) are in good condition and valued by society.
- Sustainable development can be seen in action. The communities of the Parks take an active part in decisions about their future. They are known for having been pivotal in the transformation to a low carbon society and sustainable living. Renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, low carbon transport and travel and healthy, prosperous communities have long been the norm.
- Wildlife flourishes and habitats are maintained, restored and expanded and linked effectively to other ecological networks. Woodland cover has increased and all woodlands are sustainably managed, with the right trees in the right places. Landscapes and habitats are managed to create resilience and enable adaptation.
- Everyone can discover the rich variety of England’s natural and historic environment, and have the chance to value them as places for escape, adventure, enjoyment, inspiration and reflection, and a source of national pride and identity. They will be recognised as fundamental to our prosperity and wellbeing.
6.6 Broads Plan 2017
The Broads Plan is the key strategic management plan for the Broads. It sets out a vision, aims and objectives for the Broads and coordinates and integrates a wide range of strategies, plans and policies relevant to the area with the purposes and duties set out in the Broads Acts.
Three fundamental principles help guide the development and implementation of the Broads Plan. The first is based on the definition of the Precautionary Approach in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992. The second recognises the need for integrated, long-term management, and the third underlines the importance of informed partnership working.
Where there are likely threats of serious or irreversible damage to the environment, as a precaution, cost effective measures are taken to prevent environmental degradation in the absence of full scientific certainty of the outcome of such threats. Such precautionary action is based on assessment of the costs and benefits of action, taking into account both the proportionality between the costs and benefits and the degree of certainty in their calculation, and transparency in decision making. Gaps in knowledge are addressed by research and, where feasible, precautionary measures taken while such knowledge is outstanding.
We seek to understand and respect the complexity and biological limits of our ecosystems, and conserve their structures to maintain their health and productivity. Management is at a local scale, while recognizing the direct or indirect effects on wider, interconnected ecosystems and the public goods and services they provide. We manage for long-term, multiple benefits, not just for short-term or single interest gains.
We plan and work in partnership to make the best use of shared knowledge and resources and to avoid duplication of effort. People are involved from an early stage, and throughout, in decisions that may interest or affect them. Decisions are supported with robust evidence, including scientific and local knowledge, innovation and best practice.
The Broads Authority is required to review the Broads Plan at least every five years. The current Broads Plan (2017) will be updated in 2022 and was subject to consultation in May and June 2022.
6.7 Current Broads Planning Policy Documents
- Local Plan for the Broads – adopted in 2019
- Flood Risk SPD – adopted in 2020; elaborates on Local Plan flood risk policies
- Topic based guides – guides to help implement policies of the Local Plan
6.8 Neighbouring Local Planning Authority Planning Policy Documents
The Broads Authority is the Local Planning Authority for the Broads Executive Area. Parts of the Broads area cover Norwich City, Broadland, South Norfolk, North Norfolk, Great Yarmouth Borough and East Suffolk District Council areas. These districts are the Local Planning Authorities for the remainder of their areas. The Broads area is within the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk and the respective County Councils produce minerals and waste planning policy documents.
As the Local Plan for the Broads is developed, it is important to be aware of the proposals and policies of the districts and counties.
6.9 Norfolk Strategic Planning Framework (NSPF) (2021)
Norfolk Local Planning Authorities have produced a Norfolk Strategic Planning Framework (NSPF) to ensure that planning is undertaken strategically and the requirements of the Duty to Cooperate are met. The NSPF also meets the requirement to produce a Statement of Common Ground. All Local Planning Authorities in Norfolk have worked together to produce this work. The Framework identifies cross boundary and strategic issues and seeks ways to recommend to the Authorities on how to address these issues in a coordinated manner.
6.10 Neighbourhood Plans
At the time of writing (July 2022), the following Neighbourhood Plans were adopted or in preparation:
Adopted: Acle, Beccles, Brundall, Filby, Rollesby, Salhouse, Strumpshaw, Winterton on Sea and Wroxham.
In preparation: Barnby, Bungay, Carlton Colville, Fleggburgh, Hemsby, Horstead with Stanninghall, Loddon and Chedgrave, Lound with Ashby, Herringfleet and Somerleyton, Mettingham, Barsham and Shipmeadow and Ringsfield and Weston, Oulton, Oulton Broad, Reedham, Stalham, Thorpe St Andrew, Trowse with Newton, Worlingham.
6.11 Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
The Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirement was introduced in the Environment Act, which was passed in November
2021 and is set to become mandatory in November 2023. This is a requirement that is set nationally. It will require developers to demonstrate how they will bring about a minimum 10% increase in biodiversity in order to obtain planning permission for their projects. Under the Act, the necessary habitat enhancement will be paid for by the developer and must be guaranteed to endure for 30 years.
During the start of 2022, the Government ran a public consultation on the BNG giving details on how it can work, as well as any exemptions.
The Broads Authority will keep informed of progress as the BNG process becomes more formalised. In the meantime, some Neighbourhood Plans introduce a requirement for BNG for their Neighbourhood Area, and we will work on implementing the policy requirements.
6.12 Nutrient neutrality
In freshwater habitats and estuaries, poor water quality due to nutrient enrichment from elevated nitrogen and phosphorus levels is one of the primary reasons for habitats sites being in ‘unfavourable condition’. Excessive levels of nutrients can cause the rapid growth of certain plants through the process of eutrophication. The effects of this look different depending on the habitat but, in each case, there is a loss of biodiversity leading to sites being in unfavourable condition.
To achieve the necessary improvements in water quality, it is becoming increasingly evident that, in many cases, substantial reductions in nutrients are needed. In addition, for habitats sites that are unfavourable due to nutrients, and where there is considerable development pressure, mitigation solutions are likely to be needed to enable new development to proceed without causing further harm.
In light of this serious nutrient issue, Natural England has recently reviewed its advice on the impact of nutrients on habitats sites which are already in unfavourable condition. It is now advising that there is a risk of significant effects in more cases where habitats sites are in unfavourable condition due to exceeded nutrient thresholds. More plans and projects are therefore likely to proceed to appropriate assessment.
Mitigation through nutrient neutrality offers a potential solution. Nutrient neutrality is an approach which enables decision makers to assess and quantify mitigation requirements of new developments. It allows new developments to be approved with no net increase in nutrient loading within the catchments of the affected habitats site.
Where properly applied, Natural England considers that nutrient neutrality is an acceptable means of counterbalancing nutrient impacts from development to demonstrate no adverse effect on the integrity of habitats sites and they have provided guidance.
The Nutrient Neutrality Methodology enables a nutrient budget to be calculated for all types of development that would result in a net increase in population served by a wastewater system.
It covers all types of overnight accommodation including new homes, student accommodation, care homes, tourism attractions and tourist accommodation and permitted development (which gives rise to new overnight accommodation) under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 20159.
We are working with other Norfolk Local Planning Authorities on how to address this issue.
6.13 Recreation Avoidance Mitigation Strategy (RAMS)
New development can impact on protected wildlife sites in many ways. One such way is through the impact of recreational activities. Evidence indicates that new development in Norfolk is likely to affect the integrity of protected sites in Norfolk. In parts of Suffolk, evidence also indicates that development is likely to affect the integrity of protected sites on the Suffolk Coast. The payment of a tariff by applicants would enable the funding of measures to help mitigate impacts of recreational activities arising from development.
The requirements of Suffolk Coast RAMS apply to all new residential developments where there is a net increase in dwelling numbers. This includes, for example, the conversion of houses into smaller flats, or the change of use of other buildings to dwellings. It also includes new tourist accommodation. It excludes replacement dwellings and extensions to existing dwellings (where there is no net gain in dwelling numbers). The tariff, at the time of writing, for the area in which the Broads falls is £321.22. More background information can be found at Habitat mitigation (RAMS) » East Suffolk Council.
The following schemes are part of the Norfolk RAMS scheme and will need to pay the tariff:
- new dwellings of 1+ units (but excludes replacement dwellings and extensions)
- Housing in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
- student accommodation
- residential care homes and residential institutions
- tourist accommodation including caravan sites, camping and glamping, and
- Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople plots
- Residential moorings are also included, as well as tourist accommodation on recommended rate of ‘per six bed-space ratio’ of the tariff
The tariff (at the time of writing) is around £185. This will be index linked and increase with inflation.