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You are here: London Borough of Bromley > Interactive Unitary Development Plan > Written Statement - 7. NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

7. NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

 

OBJECTIVES:

  1. To protect, promote, enhance and actively manage the natural environment, landscape and biodiversity of the Borough
  2. To recognise the importance of trees, woodland and hedgerows in both urban and rural settings, and ensure their protection and management

STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

7.1 One of the objectives set out in the London Plan is to “make London a more attractive, well-designed and green city” including the promotion of biodiversity, and enhancement of world class heritage assets. Regional planning guidance for the South East (RPG9 March 2001) recognises the importance of environmental quality for regional prosperity and sets out the desired approach to nature conservation through the development control process.

7.2 PPG9 sets out the broad base of conservation and planning legislation which supports the protection and enhancement of the natural environment. It also provides guidance on the principles and policies that apply to the integration of nature conservation priorities and land use planning, and draws attention to other relevant PPGs.

7.3 PPG9 recognises that nature conservation is not only a rural issue, but is also important within the urban framework. The Government's general policies on nature conservation should be taken into account in all planning activities which affect rural areas and in urban areas where there is wildlife of local importance.

LOCAL CONSIDERATIONS

7.4 The nature conservation value of the Borough's countryside is under threat from competing land uses, changes in agricultural practice and urban development. The Council's Countryside Management Service (CMS) aims to reduce conflict to secure the long-term sustainable management of the countryside by working in partnership with farmers, community groups, voluntary organisations and statutory agencies.

7.5 The main role of the CMS is to support practical action to conserve and enhance the flora and fauna, natural beauty or amenity of the countryside, and, where appropriate, within the urban area. It also provides the opportunity for open and active dialogue between the Council and the farming community concerning planning issues and estate management. The Council’s Countryside and Parks Service is responsible for protecting and managing the nature conservation value of Council-owned land. With the CMS, it also promotes public interest in and respect for the natural environment in both urban and rural areas.

7.6 At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, Britain and over 150 other countries supported the Convention on Biological Diversity, recognising the need for action to halt the worldwide loss of animals, plant species and genetic resources. Action is needed not only internationally, but also at the local level. Following UK guidelines, the Council has published and updated the Bromley Biodiversity Action Plan (BBAP), the first local plan to be produced for a London Borough. It links with similar plans for Kent and London, and complements Bromley’s Local Agenda 21 initiative. The Council gives strong support for the species and habitats identified in the BBAP.

7.7 Bromley's wildlife benefits from the relatively large area of countryside, open spaces and gardens. Many sites are protected by nature conservation designations. While a number of organisations and individuals help protect and conserve Bromley's biodiversity, concern for the natural environment has never been higher – with issues ranging from the loss of songbirds in gardens, to the effects of changing land use and farming. The Council wishes to work in partnership with local landowners, organisations and local people to achieve clear targets to help protect, conserve and enhance Bromley's wildlife.

NATURE CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT

POLICY NE1 (DEVELOPMENT AND SSSI)

A development proposal within or that may have an adverse effect on a Site of Special Scientific Interest will not be permitted unless:

(i) it can be demonstrated that there is no alternative solution and the reasons for the development clearly outweigh the nature conservation or scientific interests of the sites, or
(ii) the value and interests of the site can be protected from damaging impact by mitigating measures secured by the use of conditions or planning obligations.”

POLICY NE2 (DEVELOPMENT AND NATURE CONSERVATION SITES)

A development proposal that may significantly affect the nature conservation interest or value of a local nature reserve (LNR), site of importance for nature conservation (SINC) or a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIG) will be permitted only:

(i) if it can be shown that the reasons for the development or benefits to the local community from the development outweigh the interest or value of the site, or
(ii) any harm can be overcome by mitigating measures, secured through conditions or planning obligations.

7.8 Local authorities are required by The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside. This duty embraces the conservation of flora, fauna, geological and physiological features and extends to urban as well as rural areas.

7.9 London's wildlife resources are an important amenity that should be considered whenever development is proposed. This policy aims to protect those sites and features which are of ecological interest and value, and which are an important educational and recreational resource for the Borough. The Council will pay particular attention to the conservation of habitats characteristic of the area, such as chalk grassland, ancient woodland and lowland heath. Wherever possible, the sympathetic management of such habitats will be encouraged through planning conditions, obligations or voluntary agreement.

7.10 The classification of nature conservation sites in Bromley is as follows:

• Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) [statutory designation]
• Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) [statutory designation]
• Sites of Metropolitan, Borough or Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) [non-statutory designation]
• Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGs) [non-statutory designation]

7.11 Any benefits of a proposal required to outweigh nature conservation or geological value will depend on the importance of the individual site. The national importance of SSSIs justifies the special scrutiny of development proposals within or likely to affect such areas. On sites with Metropolitan, Borough or local significance, the benefits of a proposal will be the key test or where conditions can be imposed or planning obligations used to prevent damaging impacts. Development proposals likely to affect an SSSI will be referred to English Nature for consultation. Proposals likely to affect an LNR, of which there are three in the Borough, Scadbury Park, Jubilee Park and High Elms, (all owned by the Council) or SINC will be referred to the appropriate nature conservation bodies.

7.12 The designated nature conservation sites are shown on the Proposals Map. All SSSIs (as listed in Appendix IX, except Elmstead Pit) are also Sites of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. As these designations are the subject of separate legislation, any changes that may occur during the life of this Plan will not be reflected through the alterations procedure.

See also: Policies NE3, NE4, NE5 and NE12

 

POLICY NE3

Where development proposals are otherwise acceptable, but cannot avoid damage to and/or loss of wildlife features, the Council will seek through planning obligations or conditions:

(i) inclusion of suitable mitigation measures; and
(ii) the creation, enhancement and management of wildlife habitats and landscape features.

7.13 In determining planning applications, in the management of its own land and operations, and in exercising related powers, the Council will ensure that the effects on biodiversity, wildlife habitats, geological features and nature conservation are fully taken into account. There will be sites or features of landscape and nature conservation interest which are not covered by other policies because they are not considered valuable enough to be considered of importance to the Borough as a whole, but which have local significance. Hedges, groups of trees and ponds may still make a significant contribution to the nature conservation resource of the Borough, and may provide a habitat for many species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and/or listed in the Bromley and London Biodiversity Action Plans.

7.14 The Council considers that nature conservation and ecological protection should be taken into account when considering new development. Advantage should also be taken of such opportunities to encourage natural habitats. This need not be incompatible with the development process especially as landscaping conditions are often attached to planning permissions. The possibility of securing funds to manage landscapes and nature conservation features may be considered in the case of larger developments. Protection and careful management of flora and fauna is required to safeguard the overall environment in the longer term.

7.15 Where development is proposed in ecologically sensitive areas, the Council will take account of its likely impact on the natural habitat and specialist guidance will be sought from appropriate nature conservation bodies.

7.16 In addition, the Bromley Biodiversity Action Plan (BBAP) sets out actions supporting and protecting species which are of particular importance in the Borough. Other species will be considered for action under the BBAP from time to time. All these species will be given special consideration should they or their habitat be threatened by development.

ADDITIONAL NATURE CONSERVATION SITES

POLICY NE4

If during the course of an application for a development proposal the nature conservation interest of the site becomes evident, the protection and active management of that site will be sought as part of the proposal.

7.17 It is likely that, through the development control process, additional sites of nature conservation interest will become evident. Where such circumstances arise, the Council will carry out a full assessment of that interest in consultation with relevant nature conservation bodies and, where appropriate, recommend sites’ formal designation in order to protect indigenous species and/or habitats. Where appropriate, the designation of further Local Nature Reserves will be supported.

See also: Policy NE3

 

PROTECTED SPECIES

POLICY NE5

Planning permission will not be granted for development or change of use of land that will have an adverse effect on protected species, unless mitigating measures can be secured to facilitate survival, reduce disturbance or provide alternative habitats.

7.18 PPG9 points out that the “presence of a protected species is a material consideration when a local planning authority is considering a development proposal which, if carried out, would be likely to result in harm to the species or its habitat.” The Council will consult English Nature before determining such applications.

7.19 Many plant and animal species (including badgers, bats, dormice, great crested newts and some species of birds) are statutorily protected. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 contains schedules of many of the species which are given protection. For the purposes of this policy, statutorily protected species are those included on Schedules 1, 5 and 8 of the Act or those protected by other legislation (eg badgers). These schedules are updated on a regular basis and local authorities are kept informed of any changes.

WORLD HERITAGE SITE

POLICY NE6

In considering proposals in or adjoining the proposed World Heritage Site, as defined on the Proposals Map, the likely impact on the Site’s cultural and natural heritage will be assessed. Where appropriate, management and enhancement of the Site will be sought and secured by the use of conditions or planning obligations.

7.20 Under its Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, UNESCO seeks the identification, protection, conservation and presentation of the world's natural and cultural heritage of outstanding universal value. A member country nominates sites proposed for inclusion on the World Heritage list.

7.21 The latest UK list of proposed sites (April 1999) includes Charles Darwin’s home at Down House and the surrounding countryside. This was the setting for his life and work during the forty years of his main scientific and natural history achievements culminating in the publication of his theory of evolution.

7.22 No additional statutory controls follow from the inclusion of a site in the World Heritage List. Inclusion does, however, highlight the outstanding international importance of the site as a key consideration to be taken into account by local planning authorities in determining planning and listed building consent applications, and by the Secretary of State in determining cases on appeal or following call-in. In this context, PPG15 advises local planning authorities to formulate specific planning policies for protecting World Heritage sites.

7.23 This policy will act as a focus for the management plan for the area, which will be developed by working with local residents, landowners and other interested parties, and the co-ordination of other relevant policies within the plan for the areas contained within the proposed World Heritage Site. The designation shown on the Proposals Map remains “tentative” until the World Heritage Site is confirmed.

See also: Policies NE1 to NE5

 

DEVELOPMENT AND TREES

POLICY NE7

Proposals for new development will be required to take particular account of existing trees on the site and on adjoining land, which in the interests of visual amenity and/or wildlife habitat, are considered desirable to be retained. Tree preservation orders will be used to protect trees of environmental importance and visual amenity. When trees have to be felled, the Council will seek suitable replanting.

7.24 Trees are important features of the Borough's environment and are a valuable resource for wildlife. The Council places a high priority on their retention and protection. They can be protected, if they are reasonably healthy and of public amenity value, by the making of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) which can relate to individual trees, groups of trees or areas of woodland. It is an offence to fell, top, lop or wilfully destroy any tree covered by a TPO without the prior written consent of the Council although the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 does provide for certain exceptions. Numerous trees and woodlands throughout the Borough are protected by TPOs. In addition, trees in Conservation Areas are protected even where they are not covered by a TPO.

7.25 When works are proposed to be carried out to protected trees and woodlands the Council will seek appropriate management. It will encourage their maintenance in a healthy condition as well as ensuring that they remain visually attractive. Where suitable replanting is required this will usually involve the use of heavy nursery stock, where appropriate of local provenance. A strategy to guide new woodland planting and management is set out in ‘Bromley’s Woodland Future’, published in 1994 by the Council.

7.26 When considering development proposals the Council will seek the retention and the long term health and stability of as many trees as possible. Where trees are retained within new development sites, they can help to create a settled appearance to the landscape while newly planted trees will take a number of years to reach maturity. Guidance on planning of new development close to trees is set out in British Standard BS5837:1991, a ‘Guide for Trees in Relation to Construction’.

7.27 When development is carried out, the Council will require the submission of a site survey, accurately showing the positions, species, heights, root plates, spreads and canopies of all existing trees and large shrubs. The trees to be retained should be indicated, as should the existing and proposed levels. In addition, details of all underground works to show the likely impact on tree roots will be expected to be submitted. In granting planning permission for new development where trees are to be retained, the Council will ensure that these trees are given appropriate protection during the building works through the use of planning conditions.

See also: Policy NE3

 

CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF TREES AND WOODLANDS

POLICY NE8

To improve the amenity and conservation value of trees and woodlands, the Council will:

(i) encourage appropriate beneficial management;
(ii) encourage appropriate new tree planting in suitable locations; and
(iii) promote public interest in and enjoyment of trees and woodlands.

7.28 The majority of woodlands in the Borough have been identified as ancient in origin (i.e. there has been a continuous woodland cover since 1600) and have a high nature conservation value. Since the storms of October 1987 and January 1990 there has been a heightened awareness of the value of trees and woodlands. All parts of the Borough were affected by the storms and whilst much clearing and replanting has taken place some work remains to be done. Every encouragement will be given to owners to manage their trees and woodlands appropriately, and to allow storm-damaged areas to regenerate naturally where possible. If replanting is desirable, heavy native nursery stock of local provenance should be used where appropriate. The Council’s strategy guiding new woodland planting and management is set out in ‘Bromley’s Woodland Future’ (1994).

7.29 Within the built up-area, natural regeneration of trees does not generally take place and a continuing programme of planting is necessary to replace those lost through old age, disease and the effects of new building. The Council will make use of planning conditions and obligations to achieve new planting through the planning process. In rural areas it may be appropriate to allows some woods to regenerate naturally; others will benefit from replanting. New planting in the vicinity of Biggin Hill Airport should take account of the safety implications of the possible attraction of large numbers of birds.

See also: Policy BH7

 

HEDGEROWS AND DEVELOPMENT

POLICY NE9

In considering development proposals, the Council will normally expect the retention and beneficial management of any existing hedgerow; where a hedgerow is to be removed, the Council will, where appropriate, require its replacement with native hedgerow species.

7.30 Hedgerows can play an important role in softening and screening new developments, in defining boundaries and in protecting the privacy of adjoining properties. The Council will resist the removal of significant hedgerows, and will use its statutory powers to seek appropriate replacement where hedgerows are removed without consent.

7.31 In granting planning permission for new development where significant hedgerows are to be retained, the Council will ensure that these hedgerows are given appropriate protection during the building works through the use of planning conditions.

HEDGEROW RETENTION

POLICY NE10

When considering notifications under the Hedgerow Regulations for the removal of a hedgerow, the Council will have regard to the hedgerow’s importance in terms of its wildlife, historic or landscape value and will make a Hedgerow Retention Order where necessary.

7.32 Hedgerows are important features of the countryside and many have been lost through removal or neglect. They can be distinctive elements of the landscape, and can have a vital role to play in providing habitats for wildlife. In addition, many hedgerows are historically significant. The 1997 Hedgerow Regulations allow for the protection of hedgerows which meet particular criteria. In addition to applying these criteria in considering notifications of intention to remove hedgerows, the Council will encourage appropriate management of existing hedgerows and planting of new hedgerows.

KENT NORTH DOWNS AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY

POLICY NE11

The Council will protect the Kent North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) from development considered to have a detrimental impact on the landscape of the area.

7.33 The Kent North Downs AONB was designated by the Countryside Commission (now the Countryside Agency) in 1968. This designation formally recognises the importance of the unique landscape quality in order to preserve and enhance its characteristic natural features, including flora and fauna, and to maintain its beauty.

7.34 Although only a small portion of the 878 sq km of the AONB lies within Bromley, and is the only such area in London, it is an integral part of the AONB as a whole and of national importance.

7.35 In relation to major projects, the Government's view is that the assessment required in paragraph 4.5 of PPG7 in National Parks should also apply to proposals for major development in AONBs. Such proposals should be demonstrated to be in the public interest before being allowed to proceed. Consideration of applications should therefore normally include an assessment of:

• the need for the development, in terms of national considerations, and its potential impact on the local economy;
• the cost of and scope for developing elsewhere outside the area or meeting the need for it in some other way;
• any detrimental effect on the environment and the landscape, and the extent to which that should be moderated.

7.36 The Council will consult the Countryside Agency on proposals considered likely to have a material effect on the landscape, and will make reference to the Kent AONB Management Strategy.

LANDSCAPE QUALITY AND CHARACTER

POLICY NE12

In considering development proposals and in the management of its own land and operations, the Council will:

(i) seek to safeguard the quality and character of the local landscape;
(ii) seek the appropriate restoration and enhancement of the local landscape through the use of planning obligations and conditions; and
(iii) have regard to any relevant landscape statement prepared as Supplementary Planning Guidance.

7.37 Extensive areas of open land in the Borough have considerable landscape value. These areas are principally within the Green Belt, but also includes some areas of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). They overlap with the Kent North Downs AONB and include Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Sites of Interest for Nature Conservation and Local Nature Reserves. Holwood Park, Down House, Sundridge Park, and Crystal Palace Park are included on English Heritage's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in part for their landscape value.

7.38 When considering proposals, the Council will pay special attention to the need to preserve the landscape, whether for its visual, historic or nature conservation value. Proposals, for example, for open space recreational uses, which, in principle, may be acceptable within the Green Belt or on MOL, can affect the appearance of the land. The Council will prepare Supplementary Planning Guidance in the form of “landscape statements” which will be used to assess proposals under this policy.

See also: Policies G1, G2, G6, NE3, NE11, ER16 and ER17

 

GREEN CORRIDORS

POLICY NE13

In considering development proposals, the Council will assess the likely impact on the quality and character of green corridors through the Borough (as set out in Supplementary Planning Guidance), and will seek and support appropriate enhancement and management.

7.39 The importance of links, stepping stones and wildlife corridors from one habitat to another is recognised in the London Plan and PPG9. The London Plan defines Green Corridors as relatively continuous areas of open space that run through built-up areas and provide an extension to the habitats of the sites they join. They need not be very wide, but they are essential routes for the movement of both flora and fauna and, as they are often undisturbed, can provide similar conditions to formally designated nature reserves. Green corridors are identified in Supplementary Planning Guidance and the criteria used for designation are set out in the SPG.

7.40 PPG9 states (para 15) that “statutory and non-statutory sites, together with countryside features which provide wildlife corridors, links or stepping stones from one habitat to another, all help to form a network necessary to ensure the maintenance of the current range and diversity of our flora, fauna, geological and landform features and the survival of important species.” Where development is proposed affecting such links, consideration will be given to ensuring their retention or equivalent replacement within the new scheme, and the scope for further links to be created.

See also: Policy NE5

 

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