If your site falls within either of the catchments outlined on the maps below, brace yourself for a long wait for planning consent.
In March this year, Natural England suddenly announced that the Broads SAC (special area of conservation)/Ramsar site and the River Wensum SAC are in an unfavourable condition due to excessive nitrate and phosphate levels. Their announcement meant that any development proposals generating overnight accommodation within these catchments should not be decided unless it can be proven that the development will not impact on either of these sites. Unfortunately, this is currently impossible to do, as it relies on mitigation schemes which do not yet exist.
Any development that generates sewage will generate nitrates and phosphates, and this needs to be mitigated, either on-site through the creation of wetlands or woodlands, or off-site through large scale areas set aside for this purpose. As an example of on-site mitigation, a single dwelling could require around 2.5 acres of woodland or 0.05 acres of wetland to offset its nutrient impact.
Sites outside the catchment are not technically affected. However, so far the acceptance of this varies greatly between authorities. The general trend is that information is still being requested in order to prove the site does not ultimately drain into an affected area. This ranges from full drainage strategies, to communications from statutory bodies, all of which unfortunately is at the client’s cost, and comes with an extension of time on the application.
It’s important to remember that the measures only apply to development which gives rise to overnight accommodation – i.e. new dwellings, hotels, barn conversions. Agricultural development, business development and extensions which do not generate overnight accommodation are currently not affected.
Our message to clients within the catchment at this time would be to go ahead and submit your application, so that when a solution is eventually found, your application will be among the first to be decided (as there will be a backlog). And to those outside, be aware that there could be delays and potential additional cost in satisfying the local authority that your proposals are not captured by these changes.
The situation is continuously evolving, and the Planning team at Durrants are working with qualified professionals to find solutions and progress applications. We would encourage you to speak to us to discuss whether your proposals are affected, and how we can best pre-empt any issues. Details below.