The Durrants planning team are pleased to have recently secured numerous planning consents on sites outside the catchments but within the authorities affected by the recent Natural England update – see our previous article on this here.
In a recent update seminar held by representatives of the Norfolk authorities, which Durrants attended, assurances were made that a permanent solution would be found by February 2023, with further information and strategies introduced to try to free up development in the meantime.
We were pleased to hear that staff from the councils shared developers’ frustrations with the sudden nature of the announcements, as well as what appears to be a sensible plan to find a solution. In the short term, this includes producing a more detailed map of the catchments to identify any areas within them where development could go ahead, as well as providing their own nutrient calculator to replace the flawed one published by Natural England.
It was particularly positive that the authorities are meeting regularly to ensure consistency across the county, as well as with authorities elsewhere in the country who have successfully grappled with the problem, such as Cornwall Council.
We have however seen some inconsistencies in the approach adopted by officers, which tend to centre on foul drainage and each authority’s view on septic tanks and treatment plants. Despite this, we have achieved approvals for developments involving new overnight accommodation (the trigger for nutrient neutrality) in South Norfolk and are working on others in Breckland, the Broads and Broadland authorities.
Overall, councils are working positively with us on applications outside the catchment, and we are providing the information needed to unlock decisions, with a slight delay to the original determination date (generally a few weeks). We are therefore up to speed on the nuances between authorities and would therefore encourage applicants to get in touch with the team to discuss their proposals.