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Decision details

Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Planning and Infrastructure

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To agreed the adoption of the Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document as amended.

Decision:

Matter for Decision

The report recommended that the Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) as amended was adopted, to be used as a material consideration in planning decisions supporting implementation of the adopted Local Plan.

 

Decision of the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport.

  i.  Considered the main issues raised in the public consultation, agreed responses to the representations received and agreed proposed changes to the SPD as set out in the Statement of Consultation (appendix 1 of the Officer’s report).

  ii.  Agreed the adoption the amended Greater Cambridge Biodiversity SPD (appendix 2 of the Officer’s report).

  iii.  Agreed to delegate to the Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development, in consultation with the Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, the Chair and Opposition Spokes for the Planning Policy and Transport Scrutiny Committee, the authority to make any necessary editing changes to the SPD prior to publication.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Natural Environment Team Leader.

 

In response to comments made by the Committee, the Natural Environment Team Leader, Nature Conservation Projects Officer, Principal Planning Officer and the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development said the following:

  i.  Noted the Committee’s positive comments on the statutory 10% and the aspiration of 20% biodiversity.

  ii.  Suggested the SPD could be reviewed at the point of adoption of the new Local Plan; if additional guidance on biodiversity net gain was required at this point this would be an option to explore.

  iii.  One of the challenges writing the SPD had been the changes in national legislation and guidance as the document developed.  These changes would continue to evolve over time; therefore, it was important to note these changes and determine if reassessment would be required as and when. 

  iv.  Confirmed that when scrutinising applications against policy on both large and small sites that biodiversity was being achieved and documented.

  v.  Started to reference best practice with the appropriate links throughout the SPD, however, it was not possible to provide the whole spectrum of solutions that officers advised on individual applications. This would have also increased the length of the SPD; some feedback received during the consultation process was that the document was too lengthy.

  vi.  There was an intention to show best practice on the relevant pages of the city council website rather than in the SPD which meant these pages could be updated regularly.

  vii.  Developments that successfully met the statutory biodiversity had done so with collective conversations with officers and support of the council. As this continued it would be likely the additional ambition of biodiversity would be taken forward.

  viii.  With regard to S106 and offsetting, officers were investigating the possibility of offsite biodiversity net gain where it was not possible to meet onsite biodiversity.

  ix.  The emerging Local Plan was an opportunity to develop and assist with infrastructure contributions towards the delivery of green infrastructure and biodiversity net gain.

  i.  Noted the comment it was important to acknowledge the harm of biodiversity and habitat located on the perimeter of a development site; work should be undertaken through survey data and written into policy the protection of those areas so developers could not build on the boundaries.

  ii.  Officers were working with other local authorities to develop best practice for long term biodiversity through clear extended ownership and cohesive planning.

  iii.  Currently there was little guidance from Central Government on long term biodiversity.

  iv.  It was critical going forward that monitoring for sustainable quality biodiversity was in place; this would emerge from national legislation which the department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) were assembling.  The balance of onsite and offsite biodiversity was complex and was not without challenges.

  v.  There was best practice on biodiversity net gain (the principles could be used when looking at offsite provision) one of which was on good governance, this could be used as an interim while waiting for further Government guidance.

  vi.  There was no reason why the SPD could not be used as a guide to determine if enforcement action should be taken.

  vii.  Noted the request for a report on the progress of policies and long-term net gain term biodiversity.

 

The Committee

The Committee unanimously endorsed the Officers recommendations.

 

The Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport approved the recommendations.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

Publication date: 04/05/2022

Date of decision: 11/01/2022