JFA Environmental Planning founder and managing director Jaquelin Clay discusses how development can combine aesthetics and ecological sensitivity.
What is it?
District Level Licensing is a new scheme that is being initiated in Kent to eliminate the need to carry out and submit GCN survey data with planning applications. It is important to note that District Licensing is not compulsory and standard GCN licensing procedures can be followed instead.
The new scheme makes use of existing survey data to produce a plan that details the level of risk based on a site’s location. New developments will fall under one of three categories or “risk zones” depending on Natural England’s (NE) assessment of the GCN population and habitats in that area. These zones are Red, Amber, Green. The zone that a development falls under will determine the extent of compensation required for affected ponds.
The type of compensation has also changed. Under the district licensing scheme developers will only be required to pay a certain fee to NE, who will then be responsible for any compensation. This fee can vary depending on the development, costing up to £15,165 + VAT per pond. If the development affects a large population of GCN some additional mitigation works may be still required.
How do you apply?
When applying for District Licensing, the first stage will be to submit an application to Natural England which can be found on the .gov.uk website. Although there is no requirement to submit survey data with a district license application, it may reduce mitigation costs if you choose to do so.
Once the application has been submitted NE will determine the impact of the proposed development on the local GCN populations. If no survey data is submitted with the application, then NE will assume all ponds within 250m to be occupied by GCN.
Once a compensatory fee has been agreed, NE will issue an Impact Assessment and Conservation Payment Certificate that will be submitted at planning. Once planning approval is granted, NE will issue a license to the developer to discharge any legal obligation to preserve GCN species or habitat on site.
What are the benefits?
A study by Danish Aarhus University has found that being deprived of green spaces when growing up is associated with an increased risk of mental illness (up to 55%).
The scientists used satellite images taken of Denmark between 1985 and 2013 and analysed square areas of land, with each square scored according to the amount of greenery it contained. The study factored in the impact of external factors such as socioeconomic factors or a family history of mental illness. The researchers then screened the adult participants for 16 different mental health disorders.
The study found that children (aged from birth to 10 years of age) in areas with the least amount of green space had an increased risk of developing a mental disorder later in life. Those with a greater exposure to green spaces showed a 15% to 55% lower risk.
This study emphasises the importance of access to green spaces and the need for effective green blue infrastructure planning in cities and new residential areas for wellbeing. JFA published an article previously exploring “Nature Deficit Disorder” in October 2018.
JFA Environmental Planning are excited to be providing landscape support for phases 2-4 of the urban regeneration of Aylesham in Kent. This large village was originally laid out by the renowned architect and town planner Sir Patrick Abercrombie in the style of a Garden Village in the late 1920s for a mining community relocated from the north east. This is a joint venture by development partners Barratt Homes, Persimmon Homes and Dover District Council. The site has been identified as a development opportunity to provide up to 1,200 new homes in an urban renewal programme, which will integrate the new housing within the existing community and incorporate the design ethos of the Garden Village concept. There is a distinct hierarchy of open spaces and routes through the site and these will be upgraded and enhanced to provide a network of varied recreational and amenity opportunities and improved biodiversity.
The December issue of Lawyer Monthly features an interview with JFA's Principal Jaqueline Clay. The Interview covers key critical issues for our clients when Environmental Impact Assessment may be needed: what to include, how to minimise costs and risks and how to avoid if possible.
You can find out all the detail here.
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