Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020

Ended on the 14th December 2020
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(9) Protecting and Enhancing our Environment

Introduction

  1. The national definition of sustainable development aims to enable people to meet their needs without compromising the quality of life of future generations, and includes protection and enhancement of the physical and natural environment, and efficient use of resources and energy. The NPPF states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to sustainable development, which includes the need to protect and enhance the natural environment, use natural resources more prudently, and to mitigate and adapt to climate change, thereby moving to a low carbon economy.
  2. Since the SLP was adopted, the Council has developed a "Climate Change Prospectus" which captures how the Council is delivering a sustainable, low carbon Solihull. The prospectus sets out the Council's vision for the future, along key themes that are essential if the Borough is to become more sustainable. They are:
  • Clean Growth
  • Clean Air
  • Nature Gain
  • Communication, Education & Engagement
  1. Climate change is regarded as one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and the future of the planet today. There is strong scientific consensus[39] on both the causes of anthropogenic increases of greenhouse gases within the atmosphere, as well as the impacts.
  2. The UK was the first country to introduce legally binding targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the Climate Act 2008. The Act also established the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to ensure that emissions targets are evidence-based and independently assessed. Following advice in the publication of 'Net Zero – The UK's contribution to stopping global warming' by the CCC, the Act was amended in June 2019 to change the target from 80% reduction of 1990 levels to net zero by 2050. A net-zero GHG target for 2050 will also deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below a temperature increase of 2°C.
  3. In July 2019, the West Midlands Combined Authority declared an even more ambitious target of net zero by 2041. On the 8th October 2019 the Council took action to tackle the climate change emergency and adopted a Statement of Intent to Protect the Environment[40]. To implement the statement the Council has pledged action on a number of fronts, and where these relate to land use matters they have been included in this plan. Of particular significance is the endorsement of the target of net-zero emissions by 2041, and this is a key objective of this plan.
  4. Mitigation means reducing or preventing the causes of climate change, such as promoting renewable or low-carbon energy sources and reducing energy consumption. Adaptation refers to dealing with the impacts of climate change that are occurring now and will continue to affect our people and places. Tackling both the causes and impacts of climate change are cross-cutting themes addressed in the strategy, site allocations and policies throughout this Plan.
  5. Planning can help to support the transition to a low carbon economy and to provide resilience to impacts from a changing climate. The location and design of new development in the Borough will help to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, the risk of flooding, and other impacts from a changing climate, whilst policies will encourage the use of renewable and low carbon energy. The WMCA recognises the value of supporting the demand and supply chain of the environmental technologies sector for the regional economy.
  6. The Borough's high quality green and blue infrastructure (GI) is one of its greatest assets. Our longest river, the River Blythe, is a designated SSSI, 14 of our parks have Green Flag awards and our suburbs are characterised by tree-lined streets. High quality, well-connected GI is our Natural Capital and has multiple benefits, which include:
  • Attracting Investment
  • Creating Sense of Place
  • Providing opportunities for recreation and play
  • Improving health and wellbeing
  • Habitat for wildlife
  • Flood prevention and alleviation
  • Addressing Climate Change
  • Urban cooling
  • Filtering air and soil pollution
  • Reducing noise impacts
  1. GI is not just our parks and countryside, but is a network of green and blue spaces made up of street trees, gardens, ponds, rivers, canals, hedgerows, woodlands, playing pitches, public rights of way and more.
  2. The Government recognises the need for "more, bigger, better and joined" habitats to address fragmentation, degradation and the consequent decline in biodiversity. The ecosystem services provided by a healthy well-functioning natural environment are essential for sustainable economic growth and tackling the causes and effects of climate change. The economic and social benefits of protecting our Natural Capital far outweigh the cost of their protection, and there are significant economic opportunities available for greener goods and services.
  3. The natural environment is fundamental to Solihull's attractive urban and rural environment, which helps to attract and retain investment and people. The need to address the decline in biodiversity and fragmentation of habitats locally and to enhance and restore the Borough's green infrastructure network to maximise the benefits for people and nature are recognised in the challenges and objectives, and the policies of this plan.
  4. The Council values its existing GI assets and is preparing a Natural Capital Investment Strategy, which will capture the opportunities to address this challenge based on the GI Infrastructure Study (2012) and Sub-regional GI Study (2013).
  5. Using natural resources more sustainably will help to protect resources for the future and contribute towards economic efficiency. This is reflected in a number of the challenges and objectives in this plan, notably those relating to water resources, waste management and minerals. More efficient use of water resources in new development will help to reduce the amount of waste water requiring treatment and discharge to the Borough's watercourses, protecting water quality, and minimising the risk of flooding. Treating waste as a resource that has value and using recycled materials will help businesses to be more efficient as well as conserving natural resources, such as the mineral resources in the Borough. The plan addresses the challenges involved in providing for more waste management facilities and to contribute to local and sub-regional needs for sand and gravel aggregates.
  6. The Government recognises the importance of protecting the amenities of existing and future occupiers of land and buildings (NPPF). This plan recognises that protecting amenity whilst providing for employment, housing and other growth will be a challenge and has as an objective the need to avoid, minimise or mitigate adverse impacts.

(26) Policy P9 Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change

  1. Proposals for development will be required to demonstrate that, dependent on their scale, use and location, measures are included that mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Full details of the proposed measures should be incorporated into a Climate Change Assessment in accordance with the Climate Change SPD.
  2. At a strategic level, measures to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a low carbon economy will include:
    1. Locate development where it minimises the need to travel, particularly by private vehicle, and maximises the use of sustainable forms of transport such as cycling, walking, public transport.
    2. Design development that enables transition to a net zero carbon economy and make efficient use of natural resources.
    3. Promote and attach significant weight to the installation of district, low carbon and renewable energy schemes.
    4. Expect major developments, particularly in Solihull Town Centre and the UKC Hub Area, to connect to or contribute towards existing or planned district energy and/or heat networks.
  3. At a site level, development must apply the 'energy hierarchy' to reduce energy demand for heating, lighting and cooling and minimise carbon dioxide emissions as follows:
    1. All new dwellings to achieve 30% reduction in energy demand/carbon reduction improvement over and above the requirements of Building Regulations Part L (2013) at the time of commencement up to March 2025.
    2. From April 2025 for all new dwellings to be net zero carbon.
    3. Minor non-residential development will conform to at least BREEAM Very Good and major non-residential development will conform to at least BREEAM Excellent.
    4. Provide at least 15% of energy from renewable and/or low carbon sources for all major housing developments and non-residential developments of 1000sqm or more.
    5. Supply energy efficiently and give priority to decentralised and/or district energy supply.
    6. For all major developments, implement a recognised quality regime that ensures the 'as built' performance (energy use, carbon emissions, indoor air quality, and overheating risk) matches the calculated design performance of dwellings as specified above.
    7. Source low carbon and sustainably sourced building materials wherever possible, e.g. secondary aggregates, recycled products and FSC certified timber.
    8. For residential development of new dwellings: provide at least one charging point for electric vehicles per dwelling. For non-residential development, 1 charging point will be provided per 10 parking spaces. On development sites without allocated parking, a contribution will be made to the Council's Charging Infrastructure Fund and/or provision to be made through a commercial rapid charging point.
  4. In order that development proposals are adaptive and resilient to climate change, measures will include:
    1. Flood prevention and mitigation measures, including (SUDS); and water efficiency measures as set out in Policy P11.
    2. Layout (including orientation) and design that enhances natural ventilation and lighting, and minimises the need for energy for heating and cooling, such as Passivhaus.
    3. Integrated green infrastructure, such as SUDs, green spaces and corridors, retaining and planting trees, green roofs & walls, landscaping and rain gardens.

Renewable and low carbon energy and carbon offsetting schemes

  1. 5. Planning permission will be granted for renewable or low carbon energy developments, and carbon offsetting schemes, provided that they:
    1. Do not cause demonstrable harm to residential amenity or established commercial operations;
    2. Avoid or minimise impacts on the historic environment;
    3. Can demonstrate no adverse effect on the natural environment including designated sites;
    4. Do not have an unacceptable visual impact which would be harmful to its setting;
    5. Will not have a detrimental impact on highway safety. Where located within the Green Belt, renewable or low carbon energy developments or carbon offsetting schemes that would constitute 'inappropriate development' will also need to demonstrate very special circumstances in order to be approved.

Community energy

  1. The Council will support the establishment of Renewable Energy Service Companies and community-led initiatives to reduce energy use and exploit renewable energy sources within the Borough.

Climate Change Assessment

  1. A Climate Change Assessment shall be submitted with relevant applicants to demonstrate how the criteria in this policy (where relevant) have been met.

Justification

  1. The NPPF is clear that planning, at both a strategic and decision-making level, should fully support the transition to a low carbon economy; secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and support the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy. The Council recognises that it has a crucial role to play in mitigating against and adapting to climate change through this plan.
  2. National climate change targets aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 37% of 1990 levels by 2020, 57% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. In the period 2005-2018, CO2 emissions per person in the Borough have declined, but at a slower rate than the wider West Midlands Combined Authority area. The WMCA have set an ambitious and accelerated target to achieve net zero carbon by 2041, and this is supported by the Council. The carbon budget for Solihull during the plan period is MtCO2. The Council will take full account of national and local targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing the generation of energy from renewable and low carbon sources, when considering development proposals.
  3. The Council continues to implement the Home Energy Efficiency and Affordable Warmth Strategy, and working towards the Government's Fuel Poverty target: to ensure that as many fuel poor homes as is reasonably practicable achieve a minimum energy standard (Energy Performance Certificate rating) of Band 'C' by 2030.
  4. 24% of the UK's carbon emissions are from the transport sector. Greenhouse gas emissions can be minimised by reducing the need to travel and ensuring that future occupiers of new developments have a choice of low carbon travel options. The Council's Transport Strategy 'Solihull Connected' states to support a low-carbon future Solihull will work in partnership with regional partners and align with the West Midlands Strategic Transport Plan 'Movement for Growth', the GBSLEP Low-carbon Transport Strategy, Birmingham Connected and Highways England; in particular to support people making low-carbon travel choices such as walking, cycling and public transport, the market for low-carbon vehicles and investment in recharging infrastructure and new technologies. The plan's spatial strategy promotes development in the most accessible locations wherever possible; in less accessible locations Policy P7 and P8 provide the parameters to increase accessibility and reduce dependence on private vehicles. The Council's Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan will provide greater opportunities for active travel and reduce reliance on the private car.
  5. Reducing the impacts of climate change and improving air quality are twin objectives. The Council's Electric Charging Vehicle Strategy aims to increase the coverage of electric charging points across the Borough and future-proof technological advancement. All new development is expected to provide useable charging infrastructure directly or, where this is proven to be impractical, contribute to the Council's Charging Infrastructure Fund.
  6. This policy seeks to encourage the development of low carbon and renewable energy solutions appropriate to the circumstances and scale of development. The contribution that such proposals make towards the reduction of emissions will be given significant weight.
  7. Proposals to develop decentralised energy and heating networks in the Borough will be encouraged and should be based on the latest available evidence, such as the Renewable Resource Assessment (2020). Any impacts from infrastructure, including on-site low carbon and renewable energy installations, on the surrounding natural, built and historic environment, including ground and surface water quantity and quality, or on residents or businesses will be considered, with significant weight to be given to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved. Where adverse impacts are identified, these should be minimised, or be subject to appropriate mitigation. In locations where decentralised energy and heating networks or off-gas networks exist, or have the greatest potential, such as Solihull town centre, UKC Hub, and major business parks, developers will be expected to connect to or deliver decentralised networks, unless it is demonstrated that this is not feasible or viable.
  8. Proposals for renewable or low carbon energy generation, such as photovoltaic arrays or windfarms, will take into account evidence provided in the forthcoming Renewable Resource Assessment and Net Zero Action Plan. Two-thirds of the Borough is designated Green Belt, and proposals which harm the openness and permanence of the Green Belt are not considered 'appropriate development'. Therefore, such proposals will need to provide Very Special Circumstances to be considered.
  9. 20% of the UK's GHG emissions originate from energy use in the housing stock. The Government is committed to increasing the energy efficiency of existing and new dwellings in a way that is fair, affordable and inclusive. The energy efficiency requirement of Part L of the Building Regulations will be uplifted in 2025 as part of the Future Homes Standard. The Council are keen that the very latest Building Regulations are applied to qualifying development and not kept at the time of the first planning permission being granted. This is especially significant for large strategic allocations. Proposals for low carbon design such as Passivhaus or accelerating Building Regulations to zero carbon will be given substantial weight.
  10. Efficient use of natural resources contributes to reducing our carbon and ecological footprint. Buildings and their surrounding landscape should be designed to make efficient use of natural resources during construction, operation and maintenance. Ensuring the resilience to the impacts of a changing climate at the build stage rather than retrofit is more cost-effective, inclusive and lowers fuel poverty. Sunlight and energy efficiency should be considered as an integral part of the layout through passive solar design and natural ventilation systems. Developments should also consider whole-life performance and costs. The consideration of a range of adaptation measures, including the location, design, materials, build and operation of developments, and the provision of green infrastructure, will be given substantial weight.
  11. Climate change is already happening, with rising temperatures and increase in flooding. The anticipated effects of climate change include more frequent extreme weather events; heavier rainfall and greater risk of flooding; and more and longer-lasting heat waves. The more vulnerable in society; those on low incomes, the elderly and young, those with long-term illness are also more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This policy aims to ensure that all sections of the community are more resilient to the effects of climate change.
  12. Green infrastructure delivers multiple cost-effective benefits in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Planted areas can slow water flows, decrease surface run-off, even out temperature fluctuations, trap pollution and encourage biodiversity.
  13. Guidance on minimising the consumption of water resources and addressing flood risk concerns, which are likely to increase in importance in the future, is included within Policy P11. Guidance on minimising demand for energy in new developments is included within Policy P15 and protecting the most vulnerable from the impacts of climate change in Policy P18.
  14. More detail on compliance with Policy P9 and the wider climate change objectives of the Local Plan are set out in the Council's Climate Change SPD. A Climate Change Assessment will be submitted with planning applications to show how different criteria of the policy have been met. The Viability Study supporting the Local Plan Review provides evidence that meeting the aims of the policy is viable, and robust evidence will need to be provided if this is not the case.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

B Meeting housing needs across the Borough, including the Borough's own needs and, where possible, assisting with accommodating the HMA wide shortfall.

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

F Reducing inequalities in the Borough

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable travel

I Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

(19) Policy P10 Natural Environment

  1. The Council recognises the importance of a healthy natural environment in its own right, and for the natural capital benefits it provides to the people, places and economy of the Borough. The Council will seek to protect, enhance, restore, increase and connect the natural environment and secure measurable net gains in biodiversity. The full value and benefits of the natural environment will be taken into account in considering all development proposals, including the contribution to the green economy, the health and wellbeing of residents, and the role of green infrastructure in reducing the impacts of climate change and improving air quality. Joint working with neighbouring authorities and partners will be supported, recognising the need for a landscape scale approach to the natural environment and conservation of biodiversity and geodiversity.

Biodiversity and Geodiversity

  1. The Council will seek to conserve, enhance and restore biodiversity and geodiversity across the Borough. Development whose primary objective is to conserve or enhance biodiversity and/or geodiversity will be supported; while opportunities to incorporate biodiversity improvements in and around developments will be encouraged, especially where this can secure measurable net gains for biodiversity.
  2. Protection of designated sites, ancient woodland, and priority habitats shall include the establishment of buffers to any new development so that they connect with existing and created green infrastructure assets.
  3. Development should be informed by up-to-date information on habitats and species, and take full account of national and local guidance on conserving biodiversity, opportunities for biodiversity enhancement and for improving and restoring the Borough's green infrastructure (especially fragmentation of habitats). When appropriate, development should seek to enhance accessibility to the natural environment, especially for disabled people.
  4. Developers will be expected to take full account of the nature conservation or geological value, and the existence of any protected, rare, endangered or priority habitats or species included in the Local Biodiversity Action Plan, national S.41 list, or sites in the Local Geological Action Plan, as well as the Wildlife and Countryside Act and Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations.
  5. Developers will be required to undertake an ecological survey, proportionate to the scale and type of development, following best practice methods.
  6. In considering the need for green space improvements associated with new development, developers should have regard for the standards and priorities in the Green Spaces Strategy/Open Space SPD in relation to accessible natural green space, and Defra's forthcoming GI standards.

Biodiversity Net Gain

  1. Development will be required to demonstrate how it will secure a 'net gain' in biodiversity of at least 10% compared with the pre-development baseline.[41]
  2. In the first instance, net gain should be provided in situ, as habitats and features to support native biodiversity, as well as conserving and enhancing existing nature conservation assets value within and around the development.
  3. In the circumstances where development, which otherwise meets the objectives of the Plan, is likely to have significant harmful effects on the natural environment, as a result of the development itself, or the cumulative impact of developments, developers must demonstrate that all possible alternatives that would result in less harm have been considered and robustly discounted.
  4. Where development is permitted, appropriate mitigation of the impacts and compensation will be required to deliver a net gain in biodiversity. This should be provided as:
    1. habitat creation and/or restoration,
    2. increased connectivity of the ecological and green infrastructure network, and;
    3. responds to landscape character and local distinctiveness.
  5. Enhancements should be undertaken either on the site, or in its vicinity, but where it is clearly justified that this is not possible, biodiversity offsetting, in alternative strategic locations within the Borough's ecological or green infrastructure network, may be considered as a last resort.
  6. Evidence should be provided using the Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Biodiversity Impact Assessment calculator or Defra equivalent. Further guidance will be provided in a Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity Net Gain SPD.

Arden Landscape

  1. The Council will seek to protect, enhance and restore the diverse landscape features of the Borough and to create characteristic habitats such as new woodlands, copses, hedgerows and standard trees, urban trees, species-rich grassland, wood pasture, parklands, wetlands and heathland. To halt and where possible reverse the degrading of the Arden landscape and promote local distinctiveness.
  2. Development should take full account of national and local guidance on protecting and restoring the landscape and the areas in need of enhancement, including guidance relating to the countryside. Developers will be expected to incorporate measures to protect, enhance and restore the landscape, unless it is demonstrated that it is not feasible, disproportionate or unnecessary.
  3. Development proposals will be required to demonstrate that they:
    1. Consider the context and setting, including local distinctiveness, natural and historic landscapes and character, and impact on tranquillity;
    2. Identify likely visual impacts on the local landscape (and townscape) and its immediate setting and undertake appropriate landscape design and mitigation to reduce these impacts;
    3. Aim to conserve, enhance and/or restore important landscape features in accordance with the latest local and national guidance, ensuring their long term management and maintenance;
    4. Address the importance of habitat biodiversity features, including aged and veteran trees, ancient woodland trees and hedges and their contribution to landscape character, where possible enhancing these features through means such as buffering and reconnecting fragmented areas.
  4. Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Development likely to have an adverse effect on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, whether directly or indirectly, will be subject to special scrutiny and will be permitted only if, in exceptional circumstances, it can be demonstrated that the benefits of the development clearly outweigh the nature conservation value or scientific interest of the site and the national policy to safeguard such sites. Where development is permitted that may have a direct or indirect adverse effect on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, developers will be required to incorporate measures to enhance the condition of the site and contribute to its favourable status.
  5. Local Nature Reserve, Local Wildlife Site or Geological Site: Development likely to have an adverse effect on a locally designated site will be permitted only if the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the nature conservation or geological value of the site and its contribution to wider biodiversity objectives. Where development would have an adverse effect on a site of local value, developers will be expected to incorporate measures to enhance the site or to restore the links between sites to improve connectivity in the ecosystem network based on local evidence. Evidence of net gains to biodiversity will be required.
  6. Ancient woodland and Veteran trees: Development likely to have an adverse impact on ancient woodland and/or veteran trees will not be permitted unless there are wholly exceptional circumstances. Where development may have an adverse impact on ancient woodland or veteran trees, applicants should refer to Natural England and the Forestry Commission's Standing Advice and Assessment Guide on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees.

Justification

  1. The Natural Environment White Paper was published in 2011, seeking to address concerns about the decline and fragmentation of the natural environment, highlighted in the Lawton Report, through the provision of more, better, bigger and joined spaces for nature. It set out a national target to halt biodiversity loss by 2020, supported by the Biodiversity Strategy for England. The White Paper recognised the economic benefits that are obtained from natural environment resources or natural capital and makes clear that biodiversity loss has important adverse economic and social consequences, as well as environmental ones.
  2. Since the publication of the White Paper and Biodiversity Strategy in 2011, there have continued to be national declines in both the quantity and quality of priority (S.41) habitats and species. The Government's 25-year Environment Plan affirms that it places 'the utmost importance on our commitments to biodiversity and nature conservation', and sets out bold ambitions and measures to 'leave [the] environment in a better state than we found it and pass on to the next generation a natural environment protected and enhanced for the future.'
  3. The policy addresses the themes in the White Paper, the Lawton Report and the 25-year Environment Plan by confirming that the full value of the natural environment will be taken into account in considering development proposals, and net gains in biodiversity will be sought. This should include the potential for the natural environment to improve health and wellbeing, contribute to the multi-functional benefits of green infrastructure, and reduce the impacts of climate change, e.g. through urban cooling and the management of surface water flows.
  4. Solihull is well-placed to deliver on these ambitions as the Council has a proven track of securing biodiversity gains and green infrastructure improvements in a variety of projects, notably the ERDF Wildlife Ways and the Solihull Habitats and Nature Improvement programmes. These have provided over 150 hectares of habitat enhancements within parks, open spaces and along footpaths and cycleways.
  5. The Borough is home to a rich and varied natural environment and extended green infrastructure network within both a rural and urban setting. These include rivers, canals, ancient woodland, species-rich wildflower meadows and pastures, geomorphic features and more formal parks, gardens and tree-lined streetscapes. These assets constitute the Borough's natural capital and provide a wide range of 'ecosystem services' from providing areas of recreation for people and a green environment to improve mental health and wellbeing; to water management, flood risk alleviation, carbon storage, food and timber production and mitigating the effects of air and noise pollution.
  6. However, the natural environment is, in parts, too small scale, fragmented, degraded, under visitor pressure, at risk of pollution, or incorrectly managed and the impacts of new development need to be considered from the outset to minimise harm and maximise opportunities for nature recovery, including the opportunity for connecting habitats and corridors.
  7. Solihull's countryside lies within the Arden landscape character area, for which guidance is provided in Natural England's National Character Area study and the Warwickshire Landscapes Guidelines for Arden. These identify the landscape types that are characteristic to the area and the need for enhancement or restoration in much of the Borough. The Council commissioned a Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) as part of the Local Plan Review evidence base and 'Solihull's Countryside' sets out the strategy for the countryside in the Borough and defines a number of zones within which different policy objectives apply. It highlights continuing landscape change and declining distinctiveness within the Borough's countryside. Developers will be expected to take the LCA, Countryside strategy or its successor into account in locating and designing development.
  8. An integrated approach to the conservation of natural ecosystems will be sought, based on landscape-scale conservation, so as to contribute to targets to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and to deliver economic and social benefits for Solihull's residents and businesses. New development should incorporate biodiversity conservation through good design. Developers will be expected to use national guidance on the provision of buffers between development and any ancient woodland, designated site or priority biodiversity action plan habitat. Where development is within 500 metres of woodland recorded in Natural England's Ancient Woodland Inventory, the Forestry Commission will be consulted. Up to date information on biodiversity resources is provided through the Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Habitat Biodiversity Audit, of which the Council is a partner, and opportunities for enhancement are highlighted in the Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Green Infrastructure Strategy and Solihull's Natural Capital Investment Plan. Developers will be expected to make use of this information in seeking to protect and enhance biodiversity through development.
  9. The Council recognises and will promote the need for and benefits of joint working with a range of sectors, including public sector bodies, farming and agriculture, voluntary groups, wildlife charities, Neighbourhood Areas and private landowners to achieve landscape scale conservation and enhance the strategic green and blue infrastructure network. The Council is a partner in the Kingfisher Country Park project, with Birmingham and environmental agencies and groups, to protect and restore the landscape of the River Cole and Kingshurst Brook and their surrounds in North Solihull. The Council supports the work of the Local Nature Partnership for Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull, such as the West Arden Living Landscape project, Tame Valley and River Cole NIA, and the Cole Valley Vision. 'Nature Conservation in Solihull' and the Council's Natural Capital Investment Plan set out the strategic objectives for biodiversity conservation in the Borough, and developers should take these and other strategies relating to the natural environment into account. The Council will work with Natural England and partners on the development and implementation of a Local Nature Recovery Strategy (LNRS) l to reverse the fragmentation of ecological networks and connect wildlife sites. Such initiatives will provide wildlife corridors and 'sinks' for species in response to the effects of climate change, as well as provide multi-functional green infrastructure to enhance ecosystem services.
  10. The policy recognises the importance of designated areas such as the nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest, of which there are five in the Borough including the River Blythe, and locally important wildlife and geological sites and nature reserves. It also recognises that many of these important sites are in unfavourable condition, and the potential for nearby development to help deliver improvements. The policy sets out the relative importance to be attached to designated sites when considering development proposals, including the special scrutiny afforded to Sites of Special Scientific Interest, in line with national guidance. However, biodiversity conservation will not be achieved by protecting Sites of Special Scientific Interest alone. Locally important wildlife and geological sites continue to be designated in the Borough and have been successfully protected through policies in development plans for many years. The LNRS will identify and further connect these 'jewels in the crown' with corridors and stepping stones for nature to thrive.
  11. The policy highlights the importance of creating opportunities for wildlife in enhancing and restoring the green infrastructure network both within and around new development sites. Integrating biodiversity through green infrastructure networks and wildlife corridors will be essential to halt and reverse the fragmentation of resources identified in the Lawton Report and evidenced in the State of Nature report 2019. Developers will be expected to take proper account of the value of sites proposed for development, to deliver a net gain in biodiversity and habitat creation and to have regard for Local Biodiversity Action Plan priorities, accessible natural green space standards and priorities in the Green Spaces Strategy or its successor, as well as take account of the forthcoming Defra Green Infrastructure standards.
  12. Applicants will be required to carry out ecological surveys, proportionate and relevant to the type and scale of development, to determine the biodiversity value of the site in terms of species and habitats. The Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull Biodiversity Impact Assessment calculator (as updated) or the Defra Metric 2.0 (as updated) should be used to calculate the baseline biodiversity units of the site, as a comparison for net gain. In line with the Environment Bill, if activities which would lower the biodiversity value are carried out after 30th January 2020, then the pre-development biodiversity value will be measured as immediately before the activities took place.
  13. The Council is committed to an increase in nature conservation value throughout the Borough and the delivery of net gains for biodiversity. Only where it is clearly justified this is not practicable to achieve net gain on-site, and where it is shown to have been considered and sought from the early stages of the design and layout of the development, will off-site provision, in the form of land in lieu or equivalent financial contributions, be agreed.
  14. Where development would be harmful to the natural environment, developers must consider alternatives that would result in less harm, and to incorporate appropriate mitigation and, where relevant, compensation so as to deliver a net gain in biodiversity, landscape character restoration and ecosystem services. Indirect impacts should also be taken into account, such as air pollution from traffic and light pollution, the latter in particular for bats and invertebrates. Biodiversity offsetting should only be delivered as a last resort. Where biodiversity offsetting is agreed, then the offset should be provided within the Borough or contributing to net gains that will result in a measurable enhancement of the Borough's ecological or green infrastructure network.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

F Reducing inequalities in the Borough

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

L Water quality and flood risk

(12) Policy P11 Water and Flood Risk Management

Water Quality

  1. All new development should have regard to the actions and objectives of the relevant River Basin Management Plan in striving to protect and improve the quality of water bodies in and adjacent to the Borough, including the Rivers Blythe and Cole and their tributaries. Developers shall undertake thorough risk assessments of the impact of proposals on surface and groundwater systems and incorporate appropriate mitigation measures where necessary. The Council will require developers to demonstrate that all proposed development will be served by appropriate sewerage infrastructure and that there is sufficient sewage treatment capacity to ensure that there is no deterioration of water quality, or that the delivery of any development will not be delayed by the need for additional water treatment provision. Drainage systems shall deploy surface features within the development site for water quality purposes, unless these are demonstrated to be unviable.

Water Efficiency and Disposal

  1. Disposal of surface water must comply with the following hierarchy:
    1. i. Recycling/reuse;
    2. ii. Discharge into the ground by infiltration;
    3. iii. Discharge to a surface water body or watercourse;
    4. iv. Discharge to a surface water sewer, highway drain, or another drainage system;
    5. v. Discharge to a combined sewer.

Recycling/reuse

  1. The Council recognises the need for water efficiency in all new development. Developers must demonstrate the highest possible standards of water efficiency through the recycling of potable, grey water and rainwater, and the use of water efficient fittings and appliances, in order to minimise consumption to a maximum rate of 110 litres per person per day.

Infiltration

  1. Development within areas identified as being at risk from groundwater flooding must be subject to full and careful investigation before infiltration measures are proposed, in order to minimise flood risk on the site and reduce risks elsewhere. The use of infiltration systems in areas deemed to be at risk from groundwater flooding must be agreed with the Council as Lead Local Flood Authority. On previously developed land where there is contamination known or suspected, any infiltration proposals must be agreed with the Environment Agency.

Discharge to watercourse

  1. Where a developer proposes that a site discharges to a watercourse, appropriate modelling and supporting calculations must be provided to ensure sufficient receiving capacity exists. The Environment Agency must be consulted if a proposal relates to a Main River or an Area of Critical Drainage Problems.

Discharge to sewer

  1. Where discharge to a public sewer is proposed discharge rates must be agreed with the Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, and confirmation obtained from the relevant infrastructure owner.

Sustainable Drainage Systems

  1. All development must include the use of above ground sustainable drainage systems, in order to contribute towards wider sustainability considerations, including amenity, recreation, conservation of biodiversity and landscape character, as well as flood alleviation and water quality control. Developers are encouraged to secure reduction of flood risk by the provision or enhancement of green infrastructure and the inclusion of an on-site attenuation.
  2. At an early stage, developers must ensure that adequate space is made for the above ground storage of surface water within the design layout of all new developments to support the full use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and must demonstrate that improvements to water quality will be maximised through consideration of a range of techniques. All developments must explore opportunities to provide betterment in terms of water quality and quantity to the wider area and provide evidence as to the potential for cumulative benefits to be delivered through the implementation of a strategic approach to risk reduction.

Water Quantity

  1. On all development sites, surface water discharge rates to any drain, sewer or surface water body shall be limited to the equivalent site specific greenfield run off rate. Where it is proposed to discharge runoff at rates greater than greenfield rates, developers will be required to demonstrate why it is not feasible to achieve greenfield rates and to secure agreement from the Council as Lead Local Flood Authority ahead of submission of any application.
  2. In all cases, the greenfield runoff rate shall be agreed with the Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water and the Canal and River Trust, as appropriate. The greenfield runoff rate should take into account the 1 in 1 year, 1 in 30 year and 1 in100 year rainfall events, including climate change allowances.

Flood Risk Reduction

  1. Developers shall explore opportunities to contribute towards the objectives of relevant Catchment Flood Management Plans and Flood Risk Management Plans. Development must promote the reduction of flood risk by seeking to reinstate the natural floodplain, and the de-culverting and improvement of on-site watercourses. Development should be set back at least 8m (from the top of bank or toe of a flood defence) of Main Rivers and 5m from Ordinary Watercourses for maintenance access. This includes existing culverted watercourses.
  2. New development will not normally be permitted within areas at risk of flooding. Where it is clearly demonstrated that there are no other viable sites at lower risk of flooding, consideration will be given to development in such locations, providing that it is designed to be safe from the effects of flooding and will minimise flood risk on the site and reduce risks elsewhere. Applications for new development where there is a flood risk issue must be accompanied by a site specific flood risk assessment Such assessments should be completed having regard to this policy and National Guidance.
  3. Developers must demonstrate that the layout and design of a development, including the finished floor levels, and the drainage system take account of both fluvial and surface water flows in extreme events so as to avoid flooding of properties, both within and outside the site.
  4. At an early stage, dialogue should be held with the Lead Local Flood Authority to ensure developments do not detrimentally impact upon existing and planned flood risk management schemes including ensuring land identified for flood storage is safeguarded as well as exploring all opportunities for additional flood risk reductions and protections that can be delivered as part of the proposals working in partnership with the Lead Local Flood Authority. Developers are required to contribute towards the cost of planned flood risk management schemes through Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedules. All new developments that benefit from existing flood risk management schemes should contribute towards their on-going maintenance.

Justification

  1. The European Water Framework Directive became part of UK law in 2003 and requires improvements to the quality of water bodies, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, canals and aquifers. These requirements are reflected in the Environment Agency's River Basin Management Plans, with the Humber River Basin Management Plan setting out the Water Framework Directive target for each water body to achieve 'good' status. At March 2016, one part of the River Blythe was classified 'bad', three parts 'poor' and one part 'moderate'. For the length of the River Cole within the Borough, a decline has been measured from 'moderate' status in 2009 to 'poor' status in 2015. The Council requires well designed development in the right locations with appropriate drainage processes that can contribute towards River Basin Management Plan objectives. Where viable, surface drainage features shall be deployed in accordance with the Construction Industry Research Information Association (CIRIA) sustainable drainage systems manual, with approved proprietary engineered pollution control features used only if surface features are demonstrated not to be viable.
  2. National planning guidance on water quality and flood risk requires plans to take account of infrastructure needs such as water resources. The guidance also requires new development to be directed to areas at the lowest risk of flooding using a sequential, risk-based approach to the location of new development to avoid and/or manage flood risk.
  3. The Council has undertaken an update to the Water Cycle study for the Borough, in consultation with the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water. The study demonstrates that the level of development and the site allocations proposed in the plan are capable of being delivered without significant water and sewerage infrastructure improvements. However, the policy requires all new development to contribute to Water Framework Directive and River Basin Management Plan objectives by protecting and improving the quality of water bodies through the provision of appropriate sewerage infrastructure and sustainable drainage techniques. Developers will be expected to demonstrate that they have thoroughly assessed the impact of their proposals on surface and ground water systems, and incorporated any necessary sewerage and drainage mitigation measures.
  4. The Council recognises the need for water efficiency in all new development. The Water Cycle study recommends adoption of the optional higher standard of water efficiency as it identifies Solihull to be in moderate water stress, due to the economic benefits of reduced supply, and because of the increased sewer capacity. The policy requires developers to demonstrate the higher standard through the recycling of potable, grey water and rain water, and the use of water efficient fittings and appliances, before seeking disposal of surface water, in accordance with the hierarchy in Part H of the Building Regulations.
  5. Reducing water consumption has the effect of reducing carbon emissions as water companies use energy to collect, treat and supply water and to treat waste water. Simple demand management measures, particularly those that reduce hot water use, have significant potential to save water and energy, and reduce the carbon footprint of the water system. This accords with guidance in the NPPF, which requires local planning authorities to adopt proactive strategies to adapt to climate change.
  6. The Environment Agency is promoting the use of sustainable drainage techniques as a means of contributing to the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and reducing flood risk, as well as for wider benefits, such as the conservation of biodiversity, enhancement of the amenity of urban areas and to assist in adaptation to climate change. The NPPF gives priority to the use of sustainable drainage systems in areas at risk of flooding and for major development. Sustainable drainage systems assist with the provision of green infrastructure, supported by the NPPF and the Council's Green Infrastructure study.
  7. Sustainable drainage systems will be required for all development Developers will be expected to design in these requirements at an early stage in the development of new proposals, and to demonstrate that the proposed solution will maximise the benefits to the water environment. The Council does not regard underground storage tanks only as an appropriate sustainable drainage system, and will require at least one surface feature to be deployed within the drainage system for a development site for water quality purposes, with more features where runoff may contain higher levels of pollutants.
  8. Control of discharge rates from new and previously developed sites is an important part of flood risk management, supporting the NPPF by utilising opportunities offered by new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding, and the overall level of risk in the area and beyond. Ensuring that new developments discharge to greenfield rates reduces the wider impact, whilst limiting discharge rates associated with previously developed sites will reduce pressure on existing watercourses and sewer systems.
  9. The Environment Agency's Catchment Flood Management Plans provide an overview of flood risk across river catchments and recommend ways in which risks now and in the future can be managed. New development in the Borough will be expected to contribute towards the policy objectives of the Catchment Flood Management Plans. Most of the Borough lies within the Mid Staffordshire and Lower Tame policy unit within the Trent Catchment Flood Management Plan, where the objective is to take action to store water or manage runoff in locations that provide overall flood risk reduction or environmental benefits locally or elsewhere in the catchment. The western part of the Borough adjacent to Birmingham, and the eastern part adjoining Coventry lie in the Birmingham and Black Country, and the Coventry Cluster policy units in the Severn Catchment Flood Management Plan respectively. The Catchment Flood Management Plan objective in these areas is to take further action to reduce flood risk. Reinstatement of the natural floodplain, the de-culverting and improvement of on-site watercourses also helps contribute towards the objectives of the Humber River Basin Management Plan and achieving the Water Framework Directive target of each water body within the Borough achieving good status.
  10. The Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority for Solihull and has published a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy to help reduce flood risk and mitigate the impact of flooding in the Borough. Developers will be expected to review and pay due regard to the recommendations included within the Local Flood Risk Strategy produced by the Lead Local Flood Authority. The Strategy may highlight opportunities to work in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority to contribute to the reduction of flood risk to new development and to third party land.
  11. The Level 1 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for Solihull has identified the main flood risk areas within the Borough taking account of climate change and has been used alongside the Environment Agency's flood zone and risk of flooding from surface water maps to help guide new land allocations within the plan to areas at low risk of flooding, via a sequential test.
  12. Where there may be higher risks of flooding of new land allocations because the detailed modelling of watercourses has not been undertaken or parts of a site lie within higher flood zones, a Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has been undertaken. This applies to Sites BC1, , BL1, BL2, BL3, HA1, KN1, KN2, ME1, SO2, UK1 and UK2. This more detailed assessment defines flood zones where relevant and provides guidance on the parts of sites where development should and should not take place, as well as considering opportunities for enhancement. The Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has been used to inform the concept masterplans and Site Policies in the relevant Settlement chapters.
  13. For new developments at risk of flooding, a site specific flood risk assessment must be undertaken which demonstrates that the development will be safe for its lifetime, in accordance with the NPPF.
  14. New development sites must be resistant and resilient to flooding, to accord with the NPPF. Drainage systems must be designed so that flooding does not occur on any part of or off the site in a 1 to 30 year rainfall event, unless an area is designated to hold or convey water as part of the design, or in any part of a building or plant susceptible to water in a 1 to 100 year rainfall event. The design of the site should ensure that flows resulting from events in excess of a 1 to 100 year rainfall event, are managed so as to minimise the risks to people and property, including flows from adjacent land where relevant. Finished floor levels must be no lower than 300mm above average surrounding ground level. Where at risk from fluvial flooding, finished floor levels must be a minimum of 600mm above the 1 to 100 year plus climate change flood level, or for minor development where detailed modelling of the latest climate change allowances has not been undertaken, no lower than 600mm above the 1 in 1000 year flood level. Where relevant, the layout of buildings should direct the most vulnerable elements of a development to the areas of lowest risk, including access routes wherever possible.
  15. Where development results in the loss of flood plain storage, compensatory storage should be provided on a level for level and volume for volume basis. Mitigation measures should be provided up to the 1 in 100 (1% AEP) plus climate change fluvial flood event including the requirement for safe access and egress.
  16. Across the Borough 2,000 existing properties are considered to be at risk of fluvial flooding. For surface water flooding, there are approximately 1,500 properties across the Borough considered to be within a 1 in 30 year flood outline and 4,500 properties within the 1 in 100 year flood outline. In order to increase resilience, where developments are proposed that increase the size of buildings within areas identified to be at risk from flooding then appropriate individual property level resilience measures should be incorporated in order to reduce the impact and associated costs of repair of homes and buildings along with misery and disruption caused by flooding to families and businesses.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

L Water quality and flood risk

(44) Policy P12 Resource Management

Management of waste

  1. The Council will promote and control new development to prevent the production of waste within the Borough wherever possible, and will encourage prevention from existing buildings and uses. Where this is not feasible, waste shall be treated as a resource to be reused, recycled, or from which value will be recovered, with management to be as high up the waste hierarchy as possible. Disposal of waste shall be a last resort, to be considered only when all other options have been exhausted.
  2. Management of waste shall seek to maximise the contribution to economic development and employment in the Borough. Waste operators will be expected to demonstrate that the greenhouse gas emissions from the operations involved and associated transport of waste from source to processing facility have been minimised, in line with national and local targets for the transition to a net zero carbon economy.

Identifying suitable sites and areas

  1. The Council will seek to ensure that an equivalent tonnage is provided for within waste management facilities in the Borough to that arising in the Borough. To achieve this, a sequential approach will be used to determine the appropriate location for new waste management facilities:
    1. On-site management
    2. Consolidation or expansion at strategic waste management sites
    3. Suitable industrial areas or sites allocated for industrial or employment uses
    4. Co-location of complementary waste management operations at Berkswell and Meriden quarries
    5. Area of Search for waste management facilities.
  2. Wherever possible, on-site management of waste shall be preferred, unless the activities would result in unacceptable harm through impacts on the environment, transport or on neighbouring uses, or it is demonstrated that management elsewhere would have wider sustainability benefits.
  3. Strategically important waste management sites within the Borough, where waste management activities will be supported in principle, are identified on the Policies Map. These sites include the site of the former Arden Brickworks in Bickenhill, which contains the household waste recycling centre, and a range of other waste management operations, the materials recovery facilities at Berkswell and Meriden Quarries, the composting facilities in Berkswell, and the Moat Lane and Chapelhouse Depot waste transfer stations in the Mature Suburbs and North Solihull.
  4. When investigating the suitability of sites for waste management operations in the Borough, the potential for consolidating or expanding waste management facilities at the former Arden Brickworks site, for locating waste management facilities on appropriate industrial sites or employment areas within the Borough, and for the co-location of complementary waste operations at Berkswell and Meriden quarries shall be considered. Where it is not possible or appropriate for new operations to be developed on-site or in these locations, developers shall consider the potential of sites within the Area of Search for waste management facilities identified on the Policies Map.

Household Waste and Recycling Centre

  1. Land within Site UK2 Land at Damson Parkway, (which is allocated for employment purposes in Policy P1 and Policy UK2) could potentially accommodate a relocated Household Waste and Recycling Facility.

Criteria for suitability of waste management proposals

  1. The Council will have regard to the following criteria in considering the suitability of sites for waste management facilities:
    1. The contribution towards national and local waste management strategies, objectives and targets, including the Solihull Municipal Waste Management strategy 2010-2020 (or its replacement)
    2. The contribution towards economic development and employment in the Borough, particularly in or accessible from the North Solihull Regeneration Area
    3. The contribution to national and local targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, taking account of those resulting directly from the operations(Policy P9), and those from the transport of wastes from the source of arisings to the point of end management
    4. The potential for on-site management associated with development and other uses
    5. The potential for the development of shared facilities for more than one waste planning authority where these would accord with this policy
    6. The potential for the co-location of complementary activities where there are no adverse cumulative impacts
    7. The contribution towards the restoration of former mineral workings in the Borough
    8. The suitability of the site for the type of wastes and operations involved, including whether the activity can take place within a building or other enclosure
    9. The impacts on transport infrastructure, including the potential for the use of alternative modes to road transport, and highway safety
    10. The compatibility of waste management activities with neighbouring uses, including the nature of the wastes, operations, hours of working and any cumulative effects where waste management activities already exist
    11. The availability of suitable previously developed land and/or redundant buildings
    12. The impact on the Green Belt, taking account of National Policy and Policy P17 of this plan
    13. The impact on the environment, including the protection of water resources and quality (Policy 11), conservation of biodiversity (Policy P10), high quality design (Policy P15), the protection of the historic environment and built heritage (Policy P16), and on air quality (Policy P14) from emissions and dust
    14. The impact on amenity and health, including visual intrusion, noise and vibration, litter, odour, vermin and bird attraction, including the impact on aerodrome safeguarding.

Provision of waste facilities in non-waste development

  1. In considering non-waste management development proposals, the Council will take into account any adverse impact on the strategically important waste management sites and the potential of the Area of Search for waste management facilities identified in this plan. Non-waste development will be required to accommodate facilities for the storage, sorting and presentation of waste arising from the development, and developers will be expected to demonstrate satisfactory provision for waste management.

Justification

  1. Waste is a product of inefficient processes and the Government's aim is to prevent waste, treat it as a resource, and drive waste management up the waste hierarchy to improve efficiency and reduce impacts. The waste hierarchy consists of prevention, preparing for reuse, recycling, other recovery, with disposal only as a last resort. National guidance expects communities to take more responsibility for managing their own waste, which can be equated to managing an equivalent tonnage of waste to that arising in their areas. Waste management should be considered alongside other spatial planning concerns, including economic development, regeneration and the national imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The National Planning Policy for Waste requires that sites and/ or areas for the location of waste management facilities should be identified in Local Plans, and sets out locational criteria.
  2. A Waste Needs Assessment for Solihull was published in November 2018. In 2017, there were just under 0.1 million tonnes of Local Authority Collected Waste arisings in the Borough, with 0.093 million tonnes comprising household waste. Projections indicate that arisings could increase to between 0.110 to 0.123 million tonnes by 2036, with the increase driven primarily by the increase in households. For 2017, estimated Commercial and Industrial waste arisings for the Borough were between 0.040 and 0.048 million tonnes. Projections indicate these could increase to between 0.068 and 0.069 million tonnes by 2036. For Construction and Demolition waste arisings, estimates range between 0.447 to 0.513 million tonnes, which could increase to between 0.667 and 0.814 million tonnes by 2036, although the report recognises that the projections could be a significant over-estimate, as they rely on significant levels of excavation waste and dredging spoils every year. Agricultural waste arisings in the Borough are very small, 0.0003 to 0.0005 million tonnes, and are not expected to increase. Hazardous waste arisings in the Borough are small at around 0.009 million tonnes, and projections suggest little change to between 0.007 and 0.011 million tonnes by 2036.
  3. In 2017, there were 13 waste management facilities in the Borough handling about 1 million tonnes, with a theoretical capacity of more than 2 million tonnes. Figures for 2018 show a reduction in the number of facilities to 12, with a reduced input of around 0.616 million tonnes. However, there are further facilities under construction and with planning permission at Meriden and Berkswell quarries respectively, and another operating without permission, which will increase capacity. The significant shortfall identified in the SLP2013 no longer exists, although the Waste Needs Assessment identifies a couple of needs that could be addressed through the Local Plan Review. These are considered below.
  4. The Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) off Coventry Road, Bickenhill is at capacity and in its current format is not suitable for enhancing the recycling of materials. The Waste Needs Assessment highlights the fact that additional household waste recycling capacity will be required to meet the needs of the increased population and number of households in the Borough during the Plan period. This could be provided by an expansion of the existing Centre, or by relocation to a larger site elsewhere in the Borough. An Assessment of land for potential relocation of the HWRC and Depot was prepared in June 2019 which highlights the potential to relocate the HWRC to Site UK2 as one of the options. The Council has not made a decision on whether the existing facility ought to be expanded, or whether an alternative location ought to be pursued. At this stage the plan is seeking to give a policy context for the principle of the use should it be decided that the HWRC should be relocated to a site within the UK2 allocation.
  5. The exceptional circumstances to justify the potential use of the site are as follows;
  • No suitable site has been identified outside the Green Belt, given the nature of the use and the number of visitors that will be attracted to the site;
  • No suitable previously developed or underutilised land has been identified and none is available on the Brownfield Land Register;
  • The site is located within a proposed allocation for employment uses and accords with the policy on the location of waste management facilities;
  • The site is well-located centrally in the Borough, close to and accessible from the main urban areas in the west and north, as well as major rural settlements;
  • The site is accessible from the strategic highway network, with sufficient space for queuing vehicles at peak times;
  • The site is relatively isolated from residential uses, other than the Gypsy and Traveller site, for which impacts can be minimised and mitigated.
  1. There is also a potential need for recycling/composting capacity to provide for Local Authority Collected Waste and Commercial and Industrial waste. The Waste Needs Assessment recommends capacity for around 62,000 tonnes per annum for recycling and for 30,000 tonnes per annum for composting, which could require a site or sites of up to 5 hectares in total area. The composting requirement is likely to be addressed by developments already in the pipeline, including a planning permission at Meriden Quarry, and a facility in Berkswell.
  2. The first option for managing waste should be on-site where this is feasible, delivers wider sustainability objectives, and does not result in unacceptable harm to environmental assets, transport infrastructure or on neighbouring uses. If this is not possible, developers will be expected to consider the potential of the strategic waste management sites, or suitable industrial sites in the Borough for appropriate or complementary activities. For operations that are complementary to mineral extraction, such as recycling of construction and demolition waste, or more appropriate in remote locations, such as open composting, an Area of Search for waste management facilities has been identified, utilising opportunities offered by former mineral workings. Waste that cannot be managed higher up the waste hierarchy is managed at the jointly owned Coventry and Solihull Energy from Waste plant in Coventry.
  3. The policy sets out the criteria that will be used to assess the appropriateness of waste management proposals. These include national and local strategies, objectives and targets, including the National Waste Management Plan for England, National Planning Policy for Waste and the Solihull Municipal Waste Management strategy 2010-2020 and the Mid-Point Update 2015, the contribution towards economic development and regeneration, including North Solihull Regeneration, and to national and local targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The potential for on-site management, shared facilities and co-location of complementary activities will be taken into account, along with the suitability of the location or site, the availability of previously developed land or redundant buildings, and whether the operations would take place in the open or are enclosed. The impacts of proposed waste management operations on the Green Belt, the environment, transport infrastructure including aerodrome safeguarding, highway safety, amenity and health will be considered, and any unacceptable harm will need to be minimised and/or appropriate mitigation incorporated.
  4. Other development may compromise or restrict the potential of waste management operations on the strategic waste management sites or in the area of search for waste management facilities. In considering proposals for non-waste management development in or adjacent to these locations, the Council will take account of any adverse effect on the potential for waste management activities. Non-waste development in all areas will be expected to include appropriate facilities for the storage, sorting and presentation of waste. Developers will be expected to demonstrate satisfactory provision for waste management through a Design and Access Statement or similar supporting evidence, taking account of the Council's waste and recycling service guide for developers.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between settlements

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable transport

I Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

(14) POLICY P13 Minerals

Mineral Safeguarding Areas

  1. Mineral Safeguarding Areas (MSAs) for sand and gravel aggregate resources between Berkswell, Hampton and Meriden and east of the NEC and M42, including sites for important associated infrastructure and to meet potential needs are defined on the Policies Map.
  2. The Council will permit the search for new minerals whether within or outside the Mineral Safeguarding Areas, providing that the criteria for minerals development proposals are met. Permission for exploration will not necessarily imply that a subsequent consent for mineral extraction will be forthcoming.
  3. Within these MSAs, proposals for non-mineral development will only be permitted where it can be demonstrated that the development will not result in the sterilisation of mineral resources or the loss of important infrastructure or sites for potential infrastructure needs in the areas. Prior to development, developers will be expected to ensure that all safeguarded minerals that would be affected are extracted, unless it is demonstrated that the resources have no economic value, extraction is not feasible or would result in excessive costs or delays, or that there is an overriding need for the development that outweighs the need to safeguard the mineral resources.

Alternative materials

  1. The Council will actively promote the use of alternative materials, such as secondary and recycled aggregates in all new development within the Borough. Provision for alternative materials will be encouraged on sites for significant development within the Borough, where appropriate. Permanent facilities will be encouraged within the area of search for appropriate waste management facilities defined on the Policies Map.

Provision for primary sand and gravel extraction

  1. Provision for primary sand and gravel resources will be made through a mixture of specific sites, preferred areas and/or areas of search to help meet the identified requirement of 8.24 million tonnes for the West Midlands Metropolitan Area over the plan period. These will include sites already granted planning permission where not included in the current sub-regional landbank.
  2. Preferred areas for primary sand and gravel extraction were identified in the adopted Solihull Local Plan 2013 at Marsh House Farm, Hornbrook Farm and west of Berkswell Quarry, which will provide around 2.0 million tonnes and are defined on the Policies Map. Two further areas are identified as Specific Sites for sand and gravel extraction as extensions to the existing quarries at land south-east of Meriden Quarry, and land south-east of Berkswell Quarry, which will provide a further 2.1 million tonnes and are also defined on the Policies Map. Extraction of any site or part thereof that will impact on an adjacent Site of Special Scientific Interest or Local Wildlife Site will be permitted only if the necessary avoidance and/or mitigation is incorporated to protect the SSSI/LWS.
  3. An area of search for primary sand and gravel extraction is identified between Berkswell, Hampton and Meriden to meet the shortfall in provision, and is defined on the Policies Map. However, inclusion within an area of search does not imply that all of the mineral resources are viable or that extraction would be acceptable. Sand and gravel extraction outside the areas of search may also be permitted, if there is evidence that insufficient mineral resources from the areas of search are likely to come forward within the plan period, or that production targets will not be met. In all cases, proposals should have regard to the points set out within this policy.

Mitigation, restoration, aftercare and after use

  1. Proposals for mineral working or related infrastructure will be assessed against the following criteria:
    1. Contribution towards national and local strategic objectives or wider needs including national and local targets for minimising carbon emissions and using alternative materials;
    2. Contribution towards the local and sub-regional economy;
    3. Contribution towards local communities and character and quality of the environment;
    4. Opportunities for the co-location of related uses and wider benefits such as the production of secondary or recycled aggregates;
    5. Impact of the proposed activities, including any associated infrastructure, on surrounding land uses and amenity, taking account of the nature of the operations, duration, hours of operation, noise, dust vibration, air pollution, visual impacts and, in respect of underground extraction, the impact of subsidence;
    6. Impact on the local and sub-regional transport network, including the routing of lorries to and from the site and the potential for rail freight;
    7. Impact on the environment, landscape, built heritage and archaeology, nature conservation interests, ground and surface water quantity and quality, best and most versatile farmland, agricultural businesses and aerodrome safeguarding;
    8. Measures for mitigating any environmental , transport or other impacts or for compensation for loss or damage where appropriate, including the provision of appropriate buffers between extraction and environmental or other assets;
    9. The potential for subsidence, migration of gases and contamination of ground water associated with underground extraction;
    10. Restoration to a safe and high quality condition with appropriate aftercare in accordance with agreed restoration and aftercare schemes and within an agreed period following the cessation of extraction; and
    11. Reclamation to an agreed use, which should prioritise the contribution the site could make to green infrastructure, the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity, including Local Biodiversity Action Plans, the enhancement and restoration of the Arden landscape, flood risk management, appropriate recreation uses and agriculture, as well as the availability of suitable infill material if appropriate.
  2. Proposals for ancillary uses will be permitted where they are located within the extraction site, are limited to the life of the permitted reserves and minimise the impacts on environmental assets, transport infrastructure and surrounding occupiers and uses. The Council will support proposals for complementary recycling facilities, which should be as close as possible to the point of extraction or disposal.

Justification

  1. The NPPF requires the Council to safeguard proven mineral resources from sterilisation by non-mineral development, together with existing, planned and potential infrastructure facilities. Mineral Safeguarding Areas have been defined for sand and gravel resources, based on work undertaken in Mineral Safeguarding in Solihull. The Mineral Safeguarding Areas include any known or anticipated sites for infrastructure including two concrete plants and one dry silo mortar plant at Berkswell and Meriden Quarries, and sites for the production of secondary and recycled materials at both quarries. The policy requires the prior extraction of minerals where non-mineral development that could sterilise resources is proposed unless justified, in accordance with national guidance.
  2. The national and local guidelines for aggregates provision in England 2005 to 2020 assume a significant contribution from alternative materials, which reduces the requirement for the production of primary aggregates. The policy promotes the use of alternative materials in construction within the Borough and provides for new and expanded facilities within a defined area of search. The co-location of primary extraction and permanent secondary facilities is likely to bring benefits in minimising transport and environmental costs. Temporary facilities for alternative materials will be encouraged on sites for significant development in the Borough.
  3. The national and local guidelines for aggregates provision in England 2005 to 2020 provide a target production figure for primary aggregates for the West Midlands, which has been apportioned to sub-regions following advice from the West Midlands aggregates working party (WMAWP). Whilst account still needs to be taken of the guidelines, the NPPF requires minerals planning authorities to prepare an annual Local Aggregate Assessment (LAA) to plan for a steady and adequate supply of aggregates. The West Midlands Metropolitan Area LAA 2015 puts forward two scenarios based firstly on the apportioned figure of 0.55 million tonnes per annum, and secondly on the ten year rolling average of sales data of just under 0.5 million tonnes per annum. The latter figure results in a requirement of 11.5 million tonnes for the period 2020 to 2036, including a seven year landbank.
  4. The latest WMAWP AMR for 2017 identifies permitted reserves of 3.99 million tonnes for the Metropolitan Area as at 31 December 2017. However, the 2018 survey indicates that this has reduced to 3.26 million tonnes as at 31 December 2018. This would leave 8.24 million tonnes to be provided for across the Metropolitan Area to 2035.
  5. The Borough is the main source of primary aggregate production for the Metropolitan Area, with annual production of up to 0.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel representing over 90% of the LAA production target. Production fell to 0.36 million tonnes in 2018, reflecting the closure of Stonebridge Quarry, following the issue of a Stop Notice by the HS2 Company. The contribution from Solihull reflects the relative levels of sand and gravel resources in Solihull and Walsall, the only authorities that contribute to primary sand and gravel production. This policy takes account of the provision for primary sand and gravel production within the Black Country Core Strategy. There may be a need to review the policy when the Black Country Plan Review is completed.
  6. In seeking to meet the requirement for primary sand and gravel production, the Council identified a number of preferred areas for extraction in the adopted Local Plan 2013. Whilst part of Hornbrook Farm has been granted planning permission, applications have yet to come forward on the remaining preferred areas. The potential reserves from the preferred areas may be affected by the line of the HS2 rail link and conditions attached to working adjacent to the line.
  7. Following a Call for Sites, two sites with viable mineral resources have been identified, and are allocated as specific sites. These form extensions to the existing quarries at land south-east of Meriden Quarry and land south-east of Berkswell Quarry and are shown on the Policies Map. The sites proposed for sand and gravel extraction are located in the Green Belt. However, mineral extraction is not inappropriate development in the Green Belt, provided that it preserves openness and does not conflict with the purposes of including land in Green Belt. Both sites lie within the Area of Search for Primary Sand and Gravel Aggregates. Land south-east of Berkswell Quarry (CfS532) is adjacent to a SSSI/Local Wildlife Site, so any proposal for mineral extraction will need to incorporate measures to protect and enhance the SSSI/Local Wildlife Site, in line with Policy P10.
  8. These preferred areas and specific sites provide for a proportion of the total requirement only, with the remainder to be provided from within defined areas of search in both Solihull and Walsall. Proposals for sand and gravel extraction outside these areas will be permitted where this can be justified. The policy provides for a minimum landbank of 7 years at the end of the plan period, in accordance with national guidance.
  9. The policy sets out the criteria for new minerals development in the Borough, to ensure mitigation of environmental and transport impacts, in accordance with national guidance. It seeks to ensure that minerals development contributes to wider national and local objectives, such as the reduction of carbon emissions, and the use of alternative materials.
  10. The criteria include the protection of the amenities of surrounding occupiers and land uses, and the local and sub-regional transport network from unacceptable impacts. Working practices will be required to avoid or minimise impacts on health and the environment from extraction, processing, management and transportation of materials. Environmental and other assets of acknowledged importance, including best and most versatile agricultural land, the natural and historic environment, and water resources and quality will need to be protected, with appropriate mitigation and compensation where necessary, in accordance with the environmental policies in this plan. The impact on aerodrome safeguarding shall include the need to minimise bird strike hazard. Any proposal adjacent to the River Blythe Site of Special Scientific Interest will be expected to maintain a minimum 30 metre buffer to the Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Council will require that investigations are undertaken to demonstrate that there will be no adverse impact on a Site of Special Scientific Interest or Local Wildlife Site before planning permission is granted.
  11. Guidance is provided on the restoration and aftercare of mineral sites once extraction has ceased and on the after use to which the land should be put, in accordance with national guidance. The restoration of any site that has a biodiversity designation, or equivalent biodiversity value, shall prioritise the contribution to biodiversity objectives. Reclamation schemes will be expected to prioritise the potential for contributing to green infrastructure, biodiversity objectives, including national and local biodiversity action plan targets, to policies seeking to enhance and restore the Arden landscape, and to flood risk management. Where appropriate, after uses may include agriculture and recreation uses providing these are in accordance with other national and local planning policies. The availability of materials to restore mineral sites will need to be a consideration to avoid unreasonably lengthy restoration.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

A Mitigating and adapting to Climate Change

D Securing sustainable economic growth

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

H Increasing accessibility and encouraging sustainable transport

I Providing sufficient waste management facilities and providing for sand and gravel aggregates

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

(10) Policy P14 Amenity

  1. Proposals for new development, extensions and changes of use will be expected to safeguard the amenities of existing and future occupiers of homes, businesses and other uses. When determining planning applications, the Council will:
    1. Permit development only if it secures high quality design (see Policy P15) whilst respecting the amenity of existing and future occupiers; and the character of the surrounding area;
    2. Expect developers to locate and design new developments so as to minimise adverse visual and other amenity impacts, whilst making efficient use of land;
    3. Seek to safeguard important trees, hedgerows, natural habitats and woodlands, and will require new and replacement tree and hedgerow planting; and, where appropriate, new woodlands;
    4. Ensure development does not have a significant adverse impact on local air quality, either directly or indirectly resulting in unacceptable effects on human health, local amenity and the natural environment. Where appropriate, development should incorporate appropriate attenuation, mitigation or compensatory measures where necessary. Where this cannot be achieved, ensure that impacts can be off-set by funding alternative measures or initiatives that will help reduce air pollution burdens within the Borough;
    5. Require proposals for development on land known or suspected to be contaminated to include appropriate information to enable the potential implications to be assessed and to incorporate any necessary remediation. Developers should also fully consider the previous use of any land to avoid unforeseen contamination that may be identified during the development process;
    6. Seek to minimise the adverse impact of noise and vibration. Development likely to create significant noise or vibration effects will be permitted only if located away from sensitive uses unless measures can be incorporated to adequately protect against such impacts. Similarly, sensitive development will only be permitted if located away from sources of significant noise or vibration, unless incorporating measures proven to reduce impacts to acceptable levels. Developers will be required to adequately assess and quantify potential noise and vibration impacts and to consider both existing pre-development and resultant post-development acoustic outcomes along with resultant internal and external noise environments. The transmission of structure borne / ground borne noise and vibration as well as airborne noise may need to be considered and where development presents such potential effects, will be required to demonstrate scheme design and operation so as to adequately address and mitigate significant impacts. Mitigation shall be based on proven methods to adequately remove, minimise, attenuate or otherwise control adverse impacts. The assessment of noise and vibration and conclusions drawn shall recognise and accommodate requirements contained in relevant legislation, standards and guidance.
    7. Protect residential and shopping areas, community facilities and open space from the introduction of incompatible development or anti-social uses that may jeopardise local amenity. Development that presents a likelihood of significant harm because of impacts from noise, odour or atmospheric pollution will not be permitted unless they can demonstrate appropriate attenuation, mitigation or remediation measures to adequately control and limit those impacts identified. In locations that may be affected or influenced by existing or approved uses or activities, where noise, odour, or air pollution present the potential to impact on the amenity of any newly introduced residential or other sensitive receptor, such development will not be permitted unless the negative impacts can be satisfactorily mitigated or abated;
    8. Consider the impact of light spillage and pollution from artificial light on local amenity, nature conservation and those parts of the countryside in the Borough that retain an intrinsically dark sky (including countryside locations). Development proposals should ensure that light impacts are fully assessed as necessary, and that any adverse impacts are limited or can be satisfactorily mitigated; and
    9. Protect the tranquil and locally distinctive areas in the Borough by guiding new development to locations that will avoid or minimise adverse impacts.

Justification

  1. The NPPF sets out that planning policies should ensure that developments create places with a high standard of amenity for existing and future users. Securing a good standard of amenity is an integral component of good design. Developments that affect people's visual and other amenities, such as those that create noise, odour or air pollution require careful siting to minimise impacts and appropriate measures to minimise or mitigate any impacts that location does not resolve. Equally, the siting and design of sensitive uses, such as residential development needs careful consideration to ensure that problems are not created. Significant new growth in the Borough is being promoted through this plan and the policy seeks to ensure that new development is appropriate for its location. Whilst it will be important to make effective and efficient use of land that makes provision for essential development, the Council will seek to protect people's amenity and fully consider the likely impacts on health, living conditions and the natural environment.
  2. Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) can provide an alternative, affordable means of accommodation but can also cause issues within local communities in terms of impact on residential amenity and loss of traditional family housing. Within the Borough there are approximately 100 HMOs. Whilst a small proportion of total households it's still an important consideration. Proposals for new large HMOs (properties containing more than 6 unrelated individuals) will therefore be considered against this policy having regard to impact on amenity and character in particular. Such proposals will also have regard to Policy 8 with regards parking and highway impact and P15 in terms of design. The conversion of existing properties to small HMOs are currently managed by Permitted Development rights. The Council will continue to review this position going forward and if necessary will introduce an Article 4 direction based on justifiable evidence. All proposals for new purpose built HMOs will be considered against all relevant Plan policies.
  3. The NPPF states that planning policies and decisions should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by recognising the wider benefits from natural capital including trees and woodland. The policy recognises the importance of protecting and increasing trees and woodlands for amenity and other benefits. These include the enhancement or restoration of the Arden landscape, increasing green infrastructure (in both the public and private realm), conservation and enhancement of biodiversity, informal recreation, opportunities to improve air quality or mitigate impacts and addressing the impacts of climate change. Important trees, hedgerows and woodlands will include trees in conservation areas, those covered by tree preservation orders, veteran trees or those with potential to be veteran trees, features characteristic of the Arden landscape or included in national or local biodiversity action plans, and trees and hedgerows covered by regulations or best practice guidance, such as the Hedgerow Regulations and the British Standard for trees and construction. Policy on conserving the landscape and biodiversity, including the protection of ancient woodlands in the Borough, is contained in Policy P10.
  4. In the context of wider national and regional air quality objectives, the policy supports the aims of the Solihull Clean Air Strategy (2019 – 2024), including the actions that will be taken to improve air quality and reduce population exposure to the pollutants known to be most harmful to human health. The integration of air quality considerations with land-use planning decisions is essential to ensure that developers fully understand the air quality impacts presented by their development. Development should therefore seek to minimise or mitigate adverse impacts on air quality, as well as enabling improvements to air quality, where appropriate. In addition to the effect of more substantial developments, consideration will be given to the potential cumulative impact of smaller developments on air quality, including their implications for vehicle emissions. As a partner in the Low Emissions Towns and Cities (LET&C) Programme and a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Council will support proposals aimed at securing better air quality across the metropolitan area, through measures such as the provision of infrastructure to encourage the use of electric vehicles for freight and public transport journeys within and beyond the Borough. A key objective of the Council Plan is to improve Solihull's air quality and implement the Electric Vehicle Strategy. Given the significant residential and commercial developments proposed across the Borough in the coming years, it is important that suitable infrastructure is in place to enable use of electric vehicles. Policy P9 sets out the Council's requirements for electric vehicle charging points associated with new development. The Council is keen to ensure that developments are future proofed and aligned with the its low-carbon targets as well as contributing to regional and local air quality objectives. The Planning Practice Guidance on Air Quality provides guidance for local authorities and developers and applicants are also encouraged to refer to the LET&C Programme's Good Practice Air Quality Guidance (May 2014), particularly in relation to integrating mitigation into scheme design.. Developers will be expected to ensure that development does not have a significant adverse impact on local air quality in considering the location and design of new development, and incorporate appropriate measures where necessary during construction and operation.
  5. Sites coming forward for redevelopment in the Borough should be assessed to establish if there are contaminated land issues that may impact on the proposal, the surrounding area or affect other receptors or ecosystems. The policy reflects the importance of providing appropriate information on any contamination that may be present. However, it is often the case that a site that presents contamination issues may not have originally been 'suspected or known'. It is therefore important to ensure that developers consider the previous use of any land to avoid unforeseen contamination that may be identified during the development process.
  6. The Council recognises the existence of significant sources of noise or potential noise within the Borough, such as Birmingham Airport, major roads and railways including HS2, mineral workings and some industrial processes, and the need to protect noise sensitive uses, including housing, education and health institutions. The policy seeks to ensure that the impacts of noise and vibration are properly investigated, assessed, quantified and mitigated to ensure adequate protection is afforded. Where this is not possible, the policy aims to prevent such development taking place. However, it is important to ensure that existing businesses and facilities, whose activities and impacts are established, do not have unreasonable restrictions placed on them as a result of new development being permitted nearby.
  7. Some uses may be harmful to amenity as a result of, noise, odour or atmospheric pollution, such a mineral workings, sewage treatment works, certain types of waste management activities or certain intensive agricultural uses. The Council will protect residential, shopping, heritage assets, community and recreation areas from uses that present a significant negative impact on amenity and ensure that, where permitted, such development incorporates measures to avoid or minimise any adverse impacts.
  8. 'Solihull's Countryside' identifies suburbanisation as a threat to the character and quality of the countryside. Whilst built development is controlled through Green Belt policy, light spillage and light pollution from residential, commercial and other sites and sources may need to be assessed and understood, particularly where potential harm to residential and community amenity, as well as ecosystems and biodiversity is identified. In accordance with the NPPF, the policy seeks to ensure that development is appropriate for its location and that the impact of light pollution from artificial light on local amenity, intrinsically dark landscapes and nature conservation is limited.
  9. Solihull's Countryside notes the loss of remoteness and a reduction in tranquillity associated with development and traffic growth and the need to maintain local distinctiveness. The Planning Practice Guidance suggests that tranquil areas are likely to be relatively undisturbed by noise from human sources that undermine the intrinsic character of the area. It may, for example, provide a sense of peace and quiet or a positive soundscape where natural sounds such as birdsong or flowing water are more prominent than background noise. Whilst much of the Borough is subject to interference from road, rail or air traffic, other noisy activities, or urban influences, there remain some quiet areas. These include canal corridors, footpaths, some conservation areas, villages and hamlets away from major roads and flight paths, and some more remote rural areas. The Council will seek to protect tranquil and locally distinctive areas by guiding development, especially that involving noisy operations or significant traffic, away from these areas..

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

E Protecting key gaps between urban areas and settlements

J Improving health and well being

K Protecting and enhancing our natural assets

(5) Policy P14A Digital Infrastructure and Telecommunications

  1. The Council will support proposals for the expansion of electronic communications networks including next generation mobile technology (such as 5G) telecommunications and full fibre broadband connections, whilst also seeking to keep the numbers of radio and telecommunications installations to a minimum consistent with the efficient operation of the network.
  2. The Council will have regard to the needs of telecommunications operators, any technical constraints on location of telecommunications apparatus, the potential for sharing sites and other existing tall buildings and other structures, the impact of development on its surroundings, the sensitivity of the environment and the design and external appearance of telecommunications apparatus.
  3. In considering proposals for new sites or equipment, applicants will be expected to ensure that the size of the apparatus is kept to the minimum necessary to achieve their purpose and demonstrate that there are no other technically suitable locations or design solutions that meet operational requirements and cause less environmental harm or visual impact. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with relevant local ward members, Parish Councils, and neighbourhood planning forums on the identification of suitable locations.
  4. The Council will expect proposals for residential and business development to include provision for on-site Ultrafast broadband infrastructure to enable connectivity to wider networks. Such infrastructure should be designed and installed as an integral part of the development to ensure that properties and premises are constructed and occupied with connections readily available. Infrastructure (such as ducting for cables) should be future proofed to enable cable upgrades and minimise future disturbance during maintenance.

Justification

  1. The NPPF recognises that advanced, high quality and reliable communications infrastructure is essential for economic growth and social wellbeing. It indicates that authorities should support the expansion of electronic communications networks, whilst aiming to keep the number of masts and sites to a minimum, consistent with the efficient operation of the network and providing reasonable capacity for future expansion. The Government's Industrial Strategy also seeks to boost digital infrastructure through the provision of funding for 5G technology and for local areas to encourage the roll out of full-fibre networks. As part of this, the West Midlands is to become the UK's first ever multi city test bed for 5G mobile technology.
  2. The guidance for telecommunication development reflects both the strategic requirements of networks and the limitations imposed by the nature of the technology, as well as the need to protect amenity and sensitive environments. Sensitive uses include residential areas, education and health institutions, all heritage assets and their settings, features characteristic of the Arden landscape, sites of ecological and geological importance, open space and the Green Belt. In such areas telecommunications infrastructure development will be discouraged, unless there are no other locations that meet operational requirements and cause less environmental harm. Telecommunications infrastructure improvements should be undertaken sensitively and equipment should be sympathetically designed and camouflaged where appropriate. Both the individual and cumulative impacts should be considered, to avoid any unacceptable visual harm.
  3. In more rural parts of Solihull telecommunications infrastructure often has poor capacity and coverage. Some parts of the Borough experience slow broadband speed and poor telecommunication signals. Improvements to the telecommunications infrastructure can address this problem and thereby help to combat social exclusion of residents, improve access to services (including emergency services), and reduce the need to travel.
  4. An improved communications network also contributes to the local economy by providing people with a choice as to how and where they can operate their business, facilitating home working and potentially attracting new employment opportunities.
  5. Access to broadband is a vital component of infrastructure in today's world. It is key to growing a sustainable local economy, vital for education and home working and an increasingly central part of community cohesion and resilience, particularly in rural areas. In addition, Local Authorities are increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure to provide services and interact with their customers and the Council acknowledge the need for 5G in the future delivery of public services.
  6. The policy seeks to ensure that communications infrastructure is treated as essential infrastructure in new developments. New properties and premises should be constructed with connections already installed to enable occupiers to secure direct connections from the moment they move in. Local Planning Authorities have a pivotal role to play in encouraging developers to 'future-proof' their developments by installing direct fibre access, wherever possible, not least to avoid any future disruption in terms of highways works.
  7. In addition to the reputational and wider economic benefits of ensuring that residents are able to access high speed broadband when they move into new developments, there is also the issue of avoiding the costs and frustrations to occupiers of future retrofitting if the infrastructure is not fit for purpose.
  8. Enhanced broadband provision also has the potential to reduce the need for road, rail and air travel. Developers are key in determining how projects shape an area; therefore the planning of telecommunications infrastructure in relation to development is vital.
  9. This will be complementary to the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Superfast Broadband project which the Council is part of. This is a project that is helping to deliver the broadband initiative, particularly in the rural areas.

Challenges and Objectives Addressed by the Policy

C Sustaining the attractiveness of the Borough for people who live, work and invest in Solihull

D Securing sustainable economic growth

F Reducing inequalities in the Borough

O Providing infrastructure and securing developer contributions


[39] https://www.theccc.org.uk/what-is-climate-change/the-science-of-climate-change/

https://royalsociety.org/-/media/Royal_Society_Content/policy/projects/climate-evidence-causes/climate-change-evidence-causes.pdf

[40] https://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/Climate-Statement-Oct-2019.pdf

[41] The Council will take seriously any attempt to minimise the biodiversity baseline value, such as the removal of trees prior to planning application.

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