Connecting air quality with commercial success
In recent times, planning appeal proposals have been increasingly subjected to stricter scrutiny when it comes to air quality impacts. As a result, developers must assess these impacts and prove how they can counter them with mitigation measures.
Simon Stanion, our head of planning, explores how developers can ensure the process happens effectively in order to secure planning permission:
National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
The NPPF calls for proposals to explicitly identify any opportunities to improve air quality or lessen air pollution on a development. These could include:
• Traffic and travel management
• Green infrastructure
• The enhancement of existing mitigation measures
Being able to set out such measures is more important than ever, with the sector’s current focus on air quality.
Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA)
An AQMA is a place where air quality objectives are not being achieved, leading to the local authority having to introduce a Local Air Quality Action Plan.
If a development fails to offer mitigation measures that are in line with the air quality action plans, then it is unlikely that planning permission will be gained for some or all of the planned development.
The benefits of mitigation measures must also be certain at the time of an assessment in order to be viewed as legitimate. Therefore, it is not enough to throw money at issues if it is not clear how the money will be used to effectively improve air quality.
The main objectives of the NPPF
Although not the only criteria that the NPPF use to judge developments, the key objectives of sustainable developments are:
• Minimising waste and pollution
• Mitigating and adapting to climate change
• Moving to a low carbon economy
All planning decisions involve balancing the economic and social needs for continued new development with the environmental impacts. Now more than ever, this environmental aspect must be seriously considered.
Local planning policy position
Before applying for planning permission, developers need to review the local planning policy position for air quality. Things to look out for include:
• Whether the site is an AQMA
• Whether there are Air Quality Management Plans in place
• The planning authority’s local information requirements/validation checklist
For major development proposals, pre-application advice and/or an EIA screening opinion should also be sought out.
In general, seeking expert advice from an experienced professional is a wise decision. It can help developers to choose the most suitable mitigation strategies, in turn improving the likelihood of successfully gaining planning permission.
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