Topical Content Articles - development Return to Main Planning Guide I topical content
Fight Pollution Is your site easily accessible by public transport to save fuel costs? Can provision be made as part of the development to improve or introduce public transport access? Can the development be reached easily and safely on foot or by bicycle? Will the development be easily accessible by a frequent public transport service? Does the proposal include a Green Commuter Plan? Have you minimised the amount of on-site car parking and provided plenty of secure cycle and motor cycle parking? Have you designed your scheme to minimise road lengths and the use of hard surface such as tarmac and concrete which increase water run-off? Are parking areas arranged to avoid water run-off into watercourses?
Energy Sense - Does your layout take into account opportunities for solar heat gain? Are you fully utilising topographical features and orientation to reduce heat loss from exposure?
Reject Reduce Re-use Repair Recycle - Does the layout have space for recycling bins and composting facilities?
Anyone planning to develop or use land in from household extensions to major building schemes, has a responsibility to ensure the change is one which protects the environment.
In considering planning and building control applications, Council takes into account, wherever possible, the extent to which a new development or change of use will make a positive contribution to the environment and the neighbourhood.
To make it easier for developers, residents, businesses and landowners to understand the environmental effects of a proposal a council has prepared this guide.
It will help you check the environmental consequences of a proposal before it is submitted for planning permission. It will also help local residents to understand how nearby development can be improved to reduce its impact on the local environment.
Quality streets and open spaces - Does your design make a positive visual contribution to the site and to adjacent areas? Has the design respected the character of the area and of adjoining properties, particularly where these are listed or in a conservation area? Have you thought of incorporating wildlife habitats within the design of your building eg nesting lodges? Does your scheme design cut opportunities for crime and provide an environment where people feel it is safe to walk, cycle and play?
Energy sense - Have you sought to minimise heat loss and maximise solar gain by sizing windows according to the direction of the building? Is the height of your building similar to those around it to prevent heat loss by exposure and to reduce energy demands? Are your buildings grouped together for the same reason? Can any parts of the development be designed as earth retained structures to take advantage of soil heat? Have you designed for optimal thermal performance? Remember the Building Regulations are the minimum standards to aim at think about extra insulation and double or triple glazing. Are you aware that light can be a pollutant if its excessive use is a disturbance to other people? Are you encouraging use of cycles by incorporating sheltered and secure arrangements for cycle parking and changing and showering facilities? Have you thought about converting your building for alternative use rather than demolition and re-building?
Reject Reduce Re-use Repair Recycle - Does your conversion retain as much of the original built form as possible without necessitating demolition or other major works which can be a waste of materials?
Conserve natural resources - Is there an opportunity to use an active solar gain system for supplementing conventional systems? Are there opportunities to introduce alternative energy generating systems such as wind turbines or photovoltaic equipment? Have you considered introducing control systems for water and fuel, including water fuses and water softeners? Have you considered saving water by using low/dual flush toilets, aerated tap and shower heads and installing showers? Have you considered using grey water systems? Have you designed in water butts?
Energy sense - Have you paid attention to energy saving measures such as utilising heat from water, the introduction of condensing boilers, zoning of heated areas and minimum pipework distribution. Have you explored all opportunities for energy efficiency lighting, introducing switching to avoid using electricity in good daylight? Have you involved building managers to ensure that building use is incorporated into energy efficient and environmentally sound design and that there is an energy and water management system?
Quality streets and open spaces - Have you included as many green, soft, permeable surfaces as possible? Have you considered how you can incorporate the habitat requirements of birds, insects and mammals? Does your design make a positive contribution to the visual and/or recreational amenity of this site? Have you considered making full use of climbing plants to soften walls, fences and buildings? Are you incorporating sufficient water features? For example, have you considered feeding seasonal wetlands and ponds from roof run-offs and ditches? Have you incorporated, where possible, "soft" boundary treatments such as hedges, shrubs etc. Could you adapt or modify your landscaping design to ensure the preservation of any land drainage ditches?
Conserve natural resources - Does your design pay due regard to the existing natural features of the site? Does your design take full advantage of the opportunities for enhancing the nature conservation value of the site? Have you selected species of known nature conservation value of the site? Have you drawn up a proper management/maintenance plan for the green elements of the site? Does this discourage the use of peat, weedkillers and pesticides to reduce environmental impact? Are you using turf and other materials from sustainably managed sources?
Reject Reduce Re-use Repair Recycle - Does your landscaping use materials generated as waste from other works eg wood chippings?
Conserve natural resources * - For most applications, softwood is just as suitable as hardwood. If you must use hardwood is it from a registered sustainable source? Can you avoid the use of PVC? For more information on sustainable materials see Handbook of Sustainable Buildings (James and James Limited, 1998).
Fight pollution - Are you using CFC- and HCFC-free insulation materials and refrigeration equipment that uses the least damaging coolant for the environment?
Reject Reduce Re-use Repair Recycle - Can you use recycled materials in your scheme, for example materials arising from demolition on site or elsewhere?
6. DrainageFight pollution - Have you installed interceptors in the drainage system to prevent petrol, oil and other pollutants from washing into nearby watercourses and ponds? How can you prevent storm water drainage from polluting these watercourses?
Quality streets and open spaces - Can tree work be left until the winter? Can you avoid work which affects animals during the spring breeding season? It is an offence to disturb badgers, bats and birds. Are your car parks, site office and storage areas positioned to cause minimum damage and disturbance to the site? Are you sure that you have not denied wildlife access to and from their homes and foraging areas?
Conserve natural resources - Have you taken steps to safeguard landscape features and vegetation during construction eg by erecting protective fencing around trees? Have you taken steps to safeguard wildlife during construction eg by erecting badger fencing? Have you marked out routes for construction vehicles which avoid damage to the landscape and wildlife? Have you arranged for lights to be turned off when construction work is not happening?
Fight pollution - Is all your plant and equipment operating efficiently? Is it regularly serviced to keep emissions, noise and fuel consumption to a minimum? Are waste materials from the site recycled rather than disposed of especially if you are clearing out a building?
Fighting pollution - Has a proper site investigation been carried out to identify areas of soil contamination? Have you checked previous uses with the council? Are correct measures being taken for decontamination? If you need to use weedkillers or fertilisers, specify the type to be used. For more information contact The Pesticide Trust. Are proper techniques being used on site for the storage of diesel and bottled gas? If work is to be done to an existing building, has all asbestos been located and correctly removed? Have lead-free solders been specified for drinking water supply pipework? Check that the bills of quantities include an item prohibiting the use of ozone depleting aerosols, insulation materials and fire fighting equipment (this includes HCFCs and Halons). Are the painting materials you are using low on volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
9. Some useful contacts
Environment Agency, Thames Regional Office, Kings Meadow House, Kings Meadow Road, Reading RG1 8DQ.
The Pesticide Trust, The Eurolink centre, 49 Effra Road, London SW2 1BZ. Tel: 0171 274 8895
Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ. Tel: 0171 490 1555
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL. Tel: 01767 680551
Berkshire Bat Group, Caversham Court Environment Centre
English Nature, Fox Hold House, Crookham Common, Thatcham, Berkshire RG19 8EL.
What is sustainable development? - Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. - Brundtland Commission, 1987
Sustainable development is about changing what we do today to improve quality of life and protect the environment, in balance with the local economy now and for future generations.
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