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Planning legislation to boost biodiversity

New planning rules to protect natural habitat on development sites could help to halt the decline of wildlife in Britain.

The rules have been mandatory from January 2024 and now form part of the planning regulations under the Town and Country Planning Act.

The legislation centres on the concept of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) and obliges developers not only to protect habitat on site, but also to demonstrate measures to boost biodiversity by 10%.

Many would say that the conservation legislation is long overdue, as the State of Nature Report 2023 said that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, and many species are threatened with extinction. Urban development and house building are often referred to as major factors in these declines.

Some of the initiatives for all new developments are pollinator rich gardens, native hedgerows and trees.

Some would say that this has been a long time coming and that it’s fairly easy to accomplish on sites, but it is another 'box to tick' and consider with any new planning application. 

Many national housebuilders, such as Redrow, Barratts and Bellway, are in partnership with wildlife charities like the RSPB and Plantlife, and they have incorporated a high percentage of green space, with meadows and a range of habitat features, such as bumblebees and bats, within the developments.

The Wildlife Trusts would like to see developers think about nature in a more integrated way and aim for at least 20% gain for nature. This includes infrastructure projects having a positive impact.

Housebuilders have set up the Future Homes Hub, a scheme to promote joint working between local government builders and conservation charities.

Garden sizes are also getting squeezed by urban development, but new habitats are likely to be in communal areas.

A survey highlighted that around a quarter of the UK's gardens have been paved over, and demand for EV charging looks likely to progress that trend.

If you require any advice on BNG, please do not hesitate to contact us - we have specialist planning advisors and architects as Affiliate partners.

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