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CHAPTER 9

COUNTRYSIDE AND THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

BACKGROUND

9.1 The district council recognises the importance which people attach to the natural environment. This chapter puts forward policies to conserve and enhance the countryside and wildlife resources of the district for the benefit of residents and visitors. At the same time it must be recognised that agriculture is the main user of land within the countryside of the plan area. Policies are included in this chapter which take account of the changes taking place within the agricultural industry. These policies try to accommodate business diversification and allow appropriate use of redundant buildings and land.

9.2 The requirements of agriculture need to be reconciled with the desire to maintain the character and quality of the countryside. For that reason the chapter contains policies limiting development in the countryside and protecting areas of attractive landscape and areas of nature conservation importance.

9.3 To strengthen the pride and pleasure that residents take in their surroundings this chapter of the plan includes proposals to heal the scars that are part of the legacy of coal mining. It also identifies initiatives, such as the project to plant new woodlands, renewing the district's associations with the ancient Sherwood Forest area.

AIMS

9.4 The aims of the local plan for countryside and the natural environment are:

1. To manage and control the use of the land outside urban areas to achieve a balance between the need to conserve agricultural land, to protect the environment and landscape of the countryside, and to control urban sprawl, with the need to maximise job-creating uses, including leisure and tourism, and utilise isolated locations for some uses not easily accepted within urban areas.

2. To protect and conserve the best agricultural land (grades 1, 2 and 3a).

3. To acknowledge and identify changes in farming and to plan for them accordingly.

4. To encourage the enhancement and protection of the landscape including the improvement of derelict, despoilt and redundant land.

5. To protect important biological and geological sites.

6. To protect and enhance existing trees, woodland and forestry and promote wide-scale tree planting and the creation of community woodlands.


AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

9.5 The character of the countryside is increasingly under pressure for change, as a consequence of modern agricultural requirements and the need for farmers to seek to diversify their enterprises. The results can be damaging to the rural landscape with, for example, the loss of field boundaries, trees and hedgerows and the erection of large modern farm buildings. The requirements of agriculture need to be reconciled with the desire to maintain the character and quality of the countryside. Where planning permission is required for agricultural development, the district council will seek to ensure that its impact on the landscape is minimised.

9.6 Much agricultural development is 'permitted development' not requiring planning permission. However, in certain cases, the permitted development rights for development on agricultural units of 5 hectares or more and for forestry cannot be exercised unless the developer has applied to the local planning authority for a determination as to whether their prior approval will be required for details of the siting, design and appearance of the project. As well as setting out the policy requirements for agricultural development. Policy ENV 1 below describes the cases in which prior approval will normally be appropriate.

9.7 Many of the conservation areas in the plan area contain farms and owe something of their character to traditional agricultural practices. Consideration will be given to the making of Article 4 directions to control development in those countryside conservation areas which would be particularly affected by minor agricultural developments. (Article 4 directions remove permitted development rights and require applications to be made for planning permission for certain developments).

9.8 Within 400 metres of buildings normally occupied by people which are not farm buildings or farm workers' dwellings, planning permission is required for proposals for buildings or structures for the storage of slurry or sewage sludge, or for buildings to accommodate livestock. (This requirement applies to all new buildings and structures, and to most created by the conversion, extension or alteration of existing buildings or structures.) In considering such applications for planning permission the local planning authority will exercise particular care because of the potential risk of nuisance and will have regard to the factors set out in policy GEN 2, Impact of Development on the Environment.

9.9 Where installations such as those described above are already established the local planning authority will normally seek to prevent the development or growth of potentially sensitive uses within influencing distance, (policy GEN 3).

9.10 In addition to the nuisance of smell and noise which may result from livestock units (or smell from slurry or sewage handling units or from silage) the more general environmental effects - especially in respect of pollution - need to be taken into account by the local planning authority. Proposals for developments of this kind which are judged likely to have significant environmental effects will usually need to be accompanied by an environmental statement which identifies and quantifies the environmental effects of the development. The local planning authority will decide whether an environmental statement is required in the light of factors such as the scale of the proposal and its proximity to dwellings, sensitive habitats or to
watercourses. This subject is discussed further in the section called Impact of
Development on the Environment (paragraph 2.16-2.21) and policy GEN 2.

9.11 ENV 1      AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT

WHERE PLANNING PERMISSION IS NEEDED FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IT WILL BE GRANTED PROVIDED THAT:

1) IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE PURPOSES OF AGRICULTURE ON THE UNIT;

AND
2) THE PROPOSAL WILL NOT HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE CHARACTER OF THE COUNTRYSIDE AND THE AMENITIES OF THE LOCALITY;

AND
3) THE PROPOSED BUILDING IS LOCATED WITHIN OR ADJACENT TO THE EXISTING FARM COMPLEX, AND IN A POSITION TO TAKE MAXIMUM ADVANTAGE OF EXISTING SCREENING.

WHERE PLANNING PERMISSION IS GRANTED FOR EITHER A NEW AGRICULTURAL BUILDING IN A LOCATION WHERE NO FUTURE ALTERNATIVE USE WOULD BE ACCEPTABLE, OR FOR A SPECIALLY DESIGNED AGRICULTURAL BUILDING WHICH WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO CONVERT TO ANOTHER USE, CONDITIONS WILL BE IMPOSED REQUIRING THE BUILDING TO BE DEMOLISHED AND REMOVED FROM THE SITE IF IT CEASES TO BE NEEDED FOR AGRICULTURE.

UNDER THE "DETERMINATION PROCEDURE" PRIOR APPROVAL WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE GIVEN FOR THE SITING, DESIGN AND APPEARANCE OF PROPOSALS WHICH ARE LIKELY TO BE MATERIALLY HARMFUL TO THE CHARACTER OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS.

CONSERVATION OF THE BEST AGRICULTURAL LAND

9.12 The best and most versatile agricultural land in the district, is that which is classified as Grades 1, 2 or 3a by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

9.13 For many years it was the policy in Britain to increase agricultural production and generally to use farmland for that purpose alone. If any agricultural land had to be taken for development, there was a preference for releasing the less productive land rather than the best if a choice was possible. During the 1990's conditions in the European Union (EU) have brought about policies to reduce production and measures such as 'milk quotas' and 'set-aside payments' have been introduced.

9.14 Notwithstanding the current emphasis in EU policy, within the principles of sustainable development the best and most versatile agricultural land still needs to be protected from irreversible development. It remains an important national resource and the need for its special protection is acknowledged in PPG7 - 'The Countryside - Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development' (1997).

9.15 ENV 2      PROTECTION OF THE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE AGRICULTURAL LAND AND THE VIABILITY OF FARM HOLDINGS

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH INVOLVES THE LOSS OF GRADES 1, 2 AND 3A AGRICULTURAL LAND UNLESS THERE IS A STRONG NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT ON THE PARTICULAR SITE WHICH OVERRIDES THE NATIONAL NEED TO PROTECT SUCH LAND. WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PERMITTED ON THE BEST AND MOST VERSATILE LAND IT SHOULD, SO FAR AS POSSIBLE, USE THE LOWEST GRADE SUITABLE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF THE DEVELOPMENT ON THE EFFICIENCY AND VIABILITY OF FARM HOLDINGS.

DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

9.16 New development in the countryside will generally be limited to those activities which are essential to the operation of an established rural business or which can be carried out satisfactorily in the countryside. Where new development would result in a significant improvement to the rural environment, it may also be permitted. (For this instance it must create a reversal of any adverse environmental effect, including visual, noise, smell, that already exists on the site).

9.17 Some developments are best suited to countryside locations, because of their nature and requirements; for example holiday camping/caravan sites often require large open areas of land in locations which are normally outside settlement frameworks. In considering proposals for such sites the local planning authority will pay particular attention to what attracted it there in the first place and will require measures to help retain the characteristics of the area. Proposals for development involving horses in the countryside should be strictly controlled and will only be allowed in locations reasonably close to safe riding routes.

9.18 In seeking to conserve the landscape, character and ecology of the countryside, the local planning authority will generally oppose aspects of new developments which have an urbanising or suburbanising influence or which lead to urban sprawl. A country setting is important to the identity of many settlements and the undeveloped gaps between settlements or groups of buildings are also important to the character of distinct places.

9.19 For the purpose of the local plan, countryside is defined as that land outside the settlement framework. No settlement framework has been defined for a number of very small places so that policy ENV 3 applies to all development within these places. At the edges of settlements some public open space, landscaping, more extensive gardens, orchards or allotments have been included in the area defined as countryside, and new uses of this kind may be acceptable at the edges of settlements provided that they would not be detrimental to the character of the countryside and would not compromise the objectives of other policies in the local plan. Tourism and leisure development in the countryside may be acceptable if it relies on features or resources which are found there and cannot be found within the settlements, or if it enhances the rural economy in a way which is directly related to an existing development or operation. Such developments should not be a prominent intrusion into the countryside or out of keeping because of noise or other environmental impacts. They should also be accessible by all modes of transport including public transport, cycling or walking (and where appropriate by riding). Those which would generate a lot of new car-borne traffic will not be acceptable.

HOUSING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

9.20 Housing development in the countryside will be strictly controlled. Proposals for new houses in the countryside will require special justification - for example, where they are essential to enable farm or forestry workers to live at or near their place of work. The local planning authority will normally apply a functional test to satisfy itself that the dwelling is necessary. In accordance with government advice, the need to keep watch over premises will not be regarded as adequate justification in itself that the dwelling is necessary. In certain cases a financial test may also be appropriate to provide further evidence of the validity of the applicants' stated intentions. These matters are dealt with more fully in Chapter 3, paragraphs 3.72 to 3.75, and HOU 9 paragraphs 3.69 and 3.70 and HOU 8 regarding the replacement and extension of existing dwellings. Paragraphs 3.64 to 3.68 deal with the special circumstances in which housing may be permitted in the countryside in order to meet proven local needs for low cost homes.

9.21 ENV 3      DEVELOPMENT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE

OUTSIDE SETTLEMENT FRAMEWORKS PLANNING PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH :

1) IS NECESSARY IN SUCH A LOCATION;

OR
2) IS REQUIRED FOR THE EXPLOITATION OF SOURCES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY;

OR
3) WOULD RESULT IN A SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENT TO THE RURAL ENVIRONMENT;

OR
4) WOULD BENEFIT THE LOCAL COMMUNITY THROUGH THE RECLAMATION OR RE-USE OF LAND.

PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED IN SUCH CASES PROVIDED IT IS DEMONSTRATED THAT:

A) THE LOCATION OF THE DEVELOPMENT OUTSIDE THE SETTLEMENT FRAMEWORK IS ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE;

AND
B) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY, OR CUMULATIVELY WITH RECENTLY COMPLETED DEVELOPMENTS AND OUTSTANDING PLANNING PERMISSIONS, WOULD NOT SERIOUSLY UNDERMINE THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF EXISTING TOWN OR LOCAL CENTRES;

AND
C) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT WOULD NOT MATERIALLY HARM THE RURAL LANDSCAPE AND AVOID UNNECESSARY URBANISATION AND SPRAWL;

AND
D) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT WOULD AVOID THE COALESCENCE OF DISTINCT SETTLEMENTS.

RE-USE AND ADAPTATION OF RURAL BUILDINGS

9.22 The buildings that already exist in the countryside often make an important contribution to the landscape - for good or ill. With many changes taking place in agriculture and the rural economy, new uses will need to be found for some existing rural buildings. In some cases (for example nondescript temporary buildings of insubstantial construction) it may be better to remove the buildings completely, to improve the appearance of the landscape. Where it is proposed to re-use a building which the local planning authority considers has a significant adverse effect on the landscape, conditions may be imposed on any planning permission to secure an improvement in the external appearance of the building. It is recognised that older buildings often make a greater contribution to the rural landscape than modern buildings; the local planning authority will welcome in particular proposals for re-use that give a means of retaining old buildings or groups of buildings which make a valuable contribution to the rural scene. In certain cases, however, a structural report may be required to demonstrate that the building is capable of being converted without being demolished and rebuilt.

9.23 When a rural building is converted and put to new uses, the design of any alterations and the activities outside the building can significantly affect its character or appearance and its impact on the landscape. Where the building is within a conservation area, or is a listed building, these issues are likely to be critical. To make sure that the development maintains or enhances the character and appearance of the building and its site the local planning authority may impose conditions or seek legal agreements to limit matters such as future extensions, parking, and the outside storage of materials. The retention and recording of any features of archaeological or historic interest will be required. In cases where non-domestic rural buildings are being - or have been - converted for residential use and are listed buildings or lie within a conservation area, conservatories and other domestic paraphernalia will be resisted. The local planning authority intends to prepare an advice note covering all the design issues and to publish it in due course as supplementary planning guidance. In every case, regard to the laws protecting certain species should also be made (see policy ENV 7). Such species that are likely to be found in rural buildings include bats, barn owls and nesting birds.

9.24 New dwellings in the countryside require special justification. New housebuilding away from established settlements is strictly controlled, and this control extends to the conversion of existing buildings. In the case of non-residential buildings of architectural or historic interest in the countryside, conversion to residential use will only be acceptable provided this is a means of retaining the essential character and appearance of the building and its setting. In such cases major extensions will seldom be appropriate. Exceptionally planning permission may be granted for significant extension where this is necessary to secure an appropriate use for a building which makes a valuable contribution to the local landscape, but only where such an extension can be provided without detriment to the character of the building or to the local landscape and environment.

9.25 The re-use and adaptation of existing buildings can help meet the demand for workspace, so as to encourage and diversify economic activity in rural areas. They also have a role to play in accommodating leisure and tourism developments (but not retailing, except where this is ancillary to another use). Such conversions for leisure and tourism uses need to be of appropriate scale and character: aspects which are covered by policy ENV 3. A balance has to be struck between the need to enhance and conserve the landscape and the need to prevent abuse of the system which gives 'permitted development rights' for the construction of some agricultural buildings. In cases where the building proposed for re-use is a farm building constructed with the benefit of permitted development rights, the local planning authority may take steps to investigate the history of the building to establish whether or not it was ever used for the purpose for which it was claimed to have been built. The grant of planning permission for conversion may be made conditional upon withdrawal of permitted development rights for new farm buildings in respect of that particular agricultural unit or holding.

9.26 ENV 4      RE-USE AND ADAPTATION OF RURAL BUILDINGS

OUTSIDE SETTLEMENT FRAMEWORKS PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR THE RE-USE AND ADAPTATION OF RURAL BUILDINGS FOR BUSINESS, INDUSTRIAL, LEISURE OR TOURISM USES (INCLUDING HOTELS) OR FOR SPORT AND RECREATION PURPOSES, PROVIDED IT IS DEMONSTRATED THAT:

1) THE LOCATION OF THE DEVELOPMENT OUTSIDE THE SETTLEMENT FRAMEWORK IS ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE;

AND
2) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY OR CUMULATIVELY WITH RECENTLY COMPLETED DEVELOPMENTS AND OUTSTANDING PLANNING PERMISSIONS, WOULD NOT MATERIALLY HARM THE VITALITY AND VIABILITY OF EXISTING TOWN AND LOCAL CENTRES;

AND
3) THE BUILDING IS LARGE ENOUGH FOR CONVERSION TO THE PROPOSED USE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT EXTENSION.

AND
4) THE BUILDING IS STRUCTURALLY SOUND AND CAN BE CONVERTED WITHOUT COMPLETE OR SUBSTANTIAL RECONSTRUCTION;

AND
5) THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT INCLUDING ANY ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE THE BUILDING WOULD MAINTAIN OR ENHANCE THE EXTERNAL APPEARANCE OF THE SITE AND ITS IMPACT IN THE RURAL LANDSCAPE.

PROPOSALS FOR THE CHANGE OF USE AND CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS FOR RESIDENTIAL PURPOSES WILL ONLY BE ACCEPTABLE IF EVERY REASONABLE ATTEMPT HAS BEEN MADE TO SECURE RE-USE WHICH FURTHERS EMPLOYMENT, AND PROVIDED THAT THE PROPOSAL:

EITHER
A) MEETS AN IDENTIFIED LOCAL NEED FOR AFFORDABLE
HOUSING;

OR
B) ENABLES THE PRESERVATION OF A BUILDING, OR GROUP OF BUILDINGS WHICH IS OF ARCHITECTURAL OR HISTORIC INTEREST AND WHICH MAKES A VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE RURAL SCENE, PROVIDED THE CONVERSION RETAINS THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER OF THE BUILDING OR GROUP AND IS APPROPRIATE TO ITS PLACE IN THE SURROUNDING LANDSCAPE;

OR
C) IS ESSENTIAL TO THE OPERATION OF AN ESTABLISHED RURAL BUSINESS.

THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 IN ORDER TO SECURE APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENT, TO MAINTAIN OR ENHANCE THE EXTERNAL APPEARANCE OF THE BUILDING OR ITS SITE, AND TO PREVENT THE SEPARATE SALE OF DWELLINGS LINKED TO BUSINESSES.

NATURE CONSERVATION INTERESTS THROUGHOUT THE DISTRICT

9.27 The planning system can help to conserve the plants, creatures and their habitats which are valuable in their own right as part of the ecosystem. As pointed out in paragraph 2.11, these resources are also part of our heritage and are valued by residents and visitors to the district.

9.28 Some of the resources are within designated sites, which are covered by policy ENV 6 in this local plan, while protected species (wherever they occur) are covered by policy ENV 7. As noted in PPG 9 "Nature Conservation" (1994), however, our wildlife heritage is not limited to these sites and species, but can be found throughout the district, both in the countryside and in built-up areas. Paragraphs 9.29 to 9.32 below refer to these habitats which are locally important for biodiversity and which it is intended to conserve wherever possible.

9.29 Ponds and other wetlands, stream margins, hedgerows, small woodlands, unimproved grasslands and many other features can all play a valuable part as wildlife habitats and as corridors, links or stepping stones from one habitat to another. Trees, woodlands and hedgerows are also highly valued by residents and visitors for the contribution they make to the urban and rural landscape. Policy ENV 8 in this local plan covers

those that are protected by tree preservation orders or covered by hedgerow removal notices, but others may merit conservation and enhancement.

9.30 The River Rother Wildlife Strategy covers the catchment of the River Rother. In Bolsover district this is the valley of the River Doe Lea, which rises near Hardwick and flows north to join the River Rother. The strategy is a joint local authorities' initiative supported by the district council. It recognises the strategic wildlife importance of the valleys of the River Rother catchment and seeks to protect and develop the wildlife value of the area as a whole. The strategy co-ordinates the protection of key wildlife habitats and the conservation of sites and species. It encourages enjoyment of the area's wildlife through management and the provision of facilities for environmental education and informal recreation.

9.31 The Mid Derbyshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was completed in April 1998. It has been prepared by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in partnership with the county council, all the relevant district councils, and other organisations. Bolsover District Council has expressed its support for the action plan. The action plan identifies the diverse biological resources of the area, and develops specific conservation objectives and targets for priority species and habitats. It also identifies the action which is required to meet and monitor the achievement of these objectives. The action plan includes sixteen habitat action plans for different kinds of woodland, grassland, farmland and wetland, together with action plans for other habitats. Four species action plans have been published for the otter, grass snake, black poplar and glow worm. The conservation of other priority species will be addressed through the habitat action plans. A local BAP for Bolsover District is to be prepared which will identify local priority habitats.

9.32 East of a line drawn between Hardwick, Glapwell, Bolsover and Barlborough, the ecology and landscape of the plan area reflect its magnesian limestone geology. A Magnesian Limestone Management Strategy has been prepared by a joint working group of local authorities, conservation organisations and other agencies, led by Groundwork Creswell and the Creswell Heritage Trust. This area harbours nationally scarce wildlife habitats, distinctive landscapes and features of archaeological significance, all of which are under considerable pressure from a combination of tourism, agriculture and quarrying. Magnesian limestone grassland and woodland are habitats of particular importance. The strategy has 5 key aims to: manage existing habitats, promote the creation of new habitats, reverse damage to habitats under threat, co-ordinate management schemes and promote public awareness. The importance of effectively protecting natural assets is recognised, as is the worth of harmonising agricultural and recreational uses with ecological protection.

9.33 ENV 5      NATURE CONSERVATION INTERESTS THROUGHOUT THE DISTRICT

IN GRANTING PLANNING PERMISSION THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL REQUIRE DEVELOPMENT TO:

1) RETAIN, WHEREVER POSSIBLE, HABITATS WHICH ARE LOCALLY IMPORTANT FOR BIODIVERSITY INCLUDING WOODLAND, TREES, HEDGEROWS, WETLANDS, WATERCOURSES AND GEOLOGICAL FEATURES, AND PROTECT THEM DURING CONSTRUCTION WORK;

2) MAKE PROVISION, WHEREVER POSSIBLE, FOR REPLACEMENT HABITATS WHERE THE LOSS OF EXISTING WILDLIFE HABITATS IS UNAVOIDABLE;

3) INCORPORATE, WHEREVER APPROPRIATE, CREATIVE CONSERVATION MEASURES SUCH AS THE MAKING OF FRESH GEOLOGICAL EXPOSURES OR THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW WILDLIFE HABITATS WHICH PROMOTE BIODIVERSITY TARGETS;

4) INCORPORATE THE GREATEST POSSIBLE PROPORTION OF APPROPRIATE NATIVE SPECIES IN ANY LANDSCAPING OR PLANTING SCHEME, EXCEPT WHERE SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS OF PURPOSE OR LOCATION DICTATE OTHERWISE;

5) INCORPORATE THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE AREA OF PERMEABLE GROUND SURFACE AND TAKE SUCH STEPS AS ARE NECESSARY TO REGULATE SURFACE WATER FLOWS FROM IMPERMEABLE SURFACES TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE NATURE CONSERVATION;

6) SEEK TO INCORPORATE GEOLOGICAL FEATURES AND HABITATS ATTRACTIVE TO WILDLIFE IN THE DESIGN OF BUILT STRUCTURES.

IN ORDER TO SECURE SUCH PROVISION THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE PLANNING CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990.

DESIGNATED AND REGISTERED NATURE CONSERVATION SITES

9.34 The importance of designating nature conservation sites arises from the government's aim to encourage sustainable development and the need to conserve our natural heritage. Attractive environments where attention is given to nature conservation can also be important to the social and economic well being of an area. In response to the government's objective many important sites have been designated under nature conservation legislation. PPG9 - 'Nature Conservation' (1994) follows this legislative framework and outlines how nature conservation should be reflected in development plans.

9.35 Designated sites can be categorised into different levels of importance; international, national and areas of regional/local importance. Within the plan area there are no nature conservation sites of international importance. However, a number of nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) have been designated by English Nature and development proposals affecting, or likely to affect, these sites are subject to special consideration. The plan area also has two Local Nature Reserves, which are designated by local planning authorities, and fifteen Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS). Sites in the latter category are termed Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs).

9.36 The Derbyshire Wildlife Sites Register (originally called the Biological Sites Register) has been recognised since 1984 as the principal means of identifying SINCs. The register contains not only nature reserves and some sites containing protected species but also sites of county and district interest. These sites, as listed in Appendix 9, will be protected from significant adverse impacts.

9.37 Before determining any application for development likely to have an adverse impact on an SSSI, Local Nature Reserve or SINC, the local planning authority will require the applicant to submit a statement detailing the ecological and/or geological importance of the site, the impact of the proposed development on it, and giving an indication of the mitigating measures proposed. Where necessary, reference will be made to English Nature or the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for advice in determining the significance of any proposed impact. Where planning permission is to be granted for development which is likely to harm a SINC or Local Nature Reserve, the local planning authority will use conditions attached to the planning permission or legal agreements, to secure measures which mitigate the effects of development on wildlife and its habitats.

9.38 ENV 6      DESIGNATED AND REGISTERED NATURE CONSERVATION SITES

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH WOULD BE LIKELY TO RESULT IN:

1) MATERIAL HARM TO ANY SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST ;

OR
2) SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE IMPACT ON SITES OF IMPORTANCE FOR NATURE CONSERVATION OR LOCAL NATURE RESERVES.

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL ONLY BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH IS LIKELY TO MATERIALLY HARM A SITE OF IMPORTANCE FOR NATURE CONSERVATION OR A LOCAL NATURE RESERVE PROVIDED THAT MEASURES ARE SECURED WHICH ;

1) MINIMISE THE IMPACT;

AND/OR
2) FACILITATE THE SURVIVAL OF INDIVIDUAL CREATURES AND/OR PLANTS;

AND/OR
3) PROVIDE ALTERNATIVE HABITATS WHICH REPLICATE OR IMPROVE THOSE LIKELY TO BE HARMED BY THE DEVELOPMENT.

IN ORDER TO SECURE SUCH PROVISION, THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990.

DEVELOPMENT AFFECTING PROTECTED SPECIES

9.39 Some of the sites of importance for nature conservation referred to in the preceding policies are inhabited by creatures and plants which are protected by law. The local plan policy safeguards these sites in cases where development is proposed. The law goes further than this, however, and gives special protection to the following species whenever they occur and from most kinds of threats - not only from development:

  • Badger
  • All species of bat
  • Great Crested Newt
  • Grass Snake
  • Adder
  • Slow Worm
  • Common Lizard
  • Crayfish
  • Otter
  • Most birds when nesting
  • Rare birds such as the Goshawk, Harriers, Hobby, Kingfisher, Merlin, Barn Owl, Peregrine and Little Ringed Plover
  • Killarney Fern
  • Derbyshire Feather Moss
  • Water Vole

9.40 The protection offered by the planning system is additional to that afforded to
wild animals and plants, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and other legislation (for example the Protection of Badgers Act 1992).

9.41 In considering applications for a development proposal, the presence of a protected species is a material consideration. In cases where it is believed that a protected species may be affected by a proposed development, the applicant will be required to submit information detailing the impact of the proposed development on the species. Before determining such an application the local planning authority will consult with English Nature to ensure that all wildlife legislation is complied with. Measures which could be taken to provide extra protection beyond the legal minimum might involve attaching appropriate planning conditions or entering into a planning agreement under which the developer would take steps to secure the protection of the species, or to improve on the existing situation.

9.42 ENV 7      DEVELOPMENT AFFECTING PROTECTED SPECIES

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT LIKELY TO CAUSE MATERIAL HARM TO BADGERS OR SPECIES PROTECTED BY SCHEDULES 1,5 OR 8 OF THE WILDLIFE AND COUNTRYSIDE ACT 1981 AS AMENDED.

WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS PERMITTED THAT IS LIKELY TO HAVE AN ADVERSE EFFECT UPON THE HABITAT OF PROTECTED SPECIES THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 IN ORDER TO:

1) FACILITATE THE SURVIVAL OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE SPECIES;

AND
2) REDUCE HABITAT DISTURBANCE TO A MINIMUM;

AND/OR
3) PROVIDE ADEQUATE ALTERNATIVE HABITATS TO SUSTAIN AT LEAST THE CURRENT LEVELS OF SPECIES POPULATION.

AS A LAST RESORT, WHERE LEGALLY AND TECHNICALLY FEASIBLE, MEASURES TO TRANSLOCATE THE SPECIES POPULATION WILL BE IMPOSED BY CONDITIONS OR SOUGHT BY AGREEMENT.

TREES AND HEDGEROWS

9.43 In many cases the permission of the local planning authority is not required for trees to be pruned or felled. In some circumstances, however, trees are identified for special protection by a Tree Preservation Order or by conditions attached to a planning permission for development which might affect them. In conservation areas most trees are protected. If someone wishes to fell, top or lop a tree in a conservation area they must, with a few exceptions, give the local planning authority six weeks' notice. It is then open to the local planning authority to control the works by making a Tree Preservation Order if it considers the tree makes a valuable contribution to the visual amenity and character of the area. People wanting to fell or work on trees are recommended to check with the planning department to see what is protected. It is a criminal offence to damage or fell a protected tree.

9.44 The presence of protected trees or trees deemed worthy of retention on a site does not preclude all development, but it does impose constraints. In assessing the importance of the health of a tree set against the requirements of a proposed development the local planning authority usually has to take into account the following aspects:

1. Potential damage during construction works (including potential breakage, excavation of roots, pollution, storage of materials).

2. Effect of finished development on survival of the tree (including effects on daylight and local water table, potential pollution or damage by occupiers, animals, plant or vehicles and longer-term effect on drainage pattern of site).

3. Longer-term impact of the fully-grown tree on the development (including the effects of roots on foundations and the effects of leaf-drop, shadow, and safety on adjoining property and occupiers).

9.45 Generally national guidance suggests that no new development involving construction should take place within four metres of the tree or one third of the mature height of the tree, whichever is the lesser. This guidance seeks to minimise the potential damage to foundations and structures by tree root activity and also damage to tree roots caused by building works. This distance does not take into account the canopy spread of trees, however, which can extend beyond the distances discussed above and which frequently results in requests to remove branches and prune canopies when buildings become occupied. Ad hoc removal of branches and other pruning works can cause damage to trees and lead to loss in amenity value by creating unbalanced crowns or poorly shaped trees. The distance between proposed new buildings and trees needs to take into account the impact of the development on the overall shape of the tree. The local planning authority will, therefore, require a distance to be left between the tree and any new development equal to one half the mature height of the tree or 5 metres, whichever is the greater.

9.46 If a protected tree is dead, dying or dangerous the law says that it may be cut down, but owners are advised to notify the local planning authority before felling, except in an emergency. The local planning authority may require a suitable replacement to be planted. If in connection with a development the local planning authority agrees to the felling of a protected tree, it will usually require a replacement tree to be planted in the same place or nearby. In special circumstances this requirement may be relaxed (for example if the tree is already damaging an existing development or is otherwise prejudiced in that location). Guidance on trees is given in Annexe 1 of the council's supplementary planning guidance "Housing Layout and Design".

9.47 Like trees, hedgerows can be given special protection, (in this case under the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, made under Section 97 of the Environment Act 1995). These provisions give local planning authorities a way of preventing the removal of most substantial sections of hedgerow in the countryside, providing that they are deemed 'important'. The definition of 'important' relates to the archaeological, historical, landscape or wildlife value of hedgerows which are at least thirty years old. Even when there is no stated intention to remove them, however, hedgerows can also be threatened by nearby development. The policy which follows is intended to cater for situations of this kind.

9.48 ENV 8      DEVELOPMENT AFFECTING TREES AND HEDGEROWS

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR DEVELOPMENT WHICH FAILS TO MAKE ALLOWANCE FOR IMPORTANT HEDGEROWS OR THE CANOPY SPREAD OF PROTECTED TREES OR OTHER HEDGEROWS OR TREES WORTHY OF RETENTION. A DISTANCE SHALL BE LEFT BETWEEN THE TRUNK OF THE TREE AND ANY NEW DEVELOPMENT EQUAL TO ONE HALF THE MATURE HEIGHT OF THE TREE OR 5 METRES, WHICHEVER IS THE GREATER.

A GREATER AREA WILL BE SAFEGUARDED WHERE TREES HAVE EXTENSIVE ROOT SYSTEMS OR CANOPIES, OR WHERE TREES ARE GROWING ON SHRINKABLE CLAY SOILS.

WHERE IT IS AGREED THAT A PROTECTED TREE MAY BE FELLED IN CONNECTION WITH THE GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION FOR DEVELOPMENT, A REPLACEMENT TREE WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE PLANTED UNLESS SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES DICTATE OTHERWISE.

DURING CONSTRUCTION PROTECTIVE FENCING AROUND RETAINED TREES AND HEDGEROWS WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE ERECTED.

EAST DERBYSHIRE WOODLAND PROJECT

9.49 The East Derbyshire Woodland Project is co-ordinated by Derbyshire County Council and is made up of a number of local authorities, the Forestry Authority and local wildlife groups. The project aims to improve peoples' local environment by identifying land for tree planting in the east of the county, both to create areas of woodland close to towns and villages and to encourage private landowners and farmers to use existing grant schemes for tree planting. The trees that will be used and provided by the project will be limited to species commonly found in Derbyshire. Appropriate sites will also include areas around factories and businesses, along footpaths and bridleways, and areas accessible for use and enjoyment by local communities.

9.50 As well as enhancing the beauty of the countryside the project will benefit
both the natural environment and the local economy. Trees can have a wide
range of ecological benefits from providing shelter and habitats for wildlife and animals to helping reduce soil erosion. New tree planting can also have other advantages for farmers because it can help farm diversification and bolster local economies through creating new opportunities for leisure and tourism.

9.51 The whole of the plan area falls within the East Derbyshire Woodland Project
area. Throughout the plan area a number of planting schemes have been carried out already, for example at Glapwell, Carr Vale Pond and Poulter Country Park. Other areas of tree planting have been carried out in association with Land Reclamation Grant and Coalfield Partnership schemes.

9.52 ENV 9      NEW TREES ON DEVELOPMENT SITES

THROUGHOUT THE DISTRICT WHEREVER IT IS NECESSARY, RELEVANT AND DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL, THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 TO SECURE THE PLANTING OF TREES AND NEW AREAS OF WOODLAND ON APPROPRIATE SITES. PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO PLANTING ON DERELICT AND RECLAIMED LAND AND IN AREAS CLOSE TO TOWNS OR VILLAGES AND ACCESSIBLE TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES. WHEREVER PRACTICAL THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION TO GIVE PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE NEW WOODLANDS FOR INFORMAL RECREATION.

PROTECTION OF AQUIFERS

9.53 Whilst some of the water collected for industry and for human consumption comes directly from rivers, lakes or reservoirs, other supplies are taken from water-bearing levels underground (aquifers). The purity of supplies from these aquifers can be directly affected by development which pollutes the ground or interferes with its capacity to filter water. The local plan seeks to protect the district's aquifers from these effects, using the policy in Chapter 2 called GEN 2, Impact of Development on the Environment (paragraph 2.21).

THE LANDSCAPE OF THE DISTRICT

9.54 Parts of the plan area have long been recognised as attractive landscape. Evidence for this stretches from the 17th and 18th century paintings of Hardwick Hall and Creswell Crags to the County Landscape Appraisal of 1967-69 and the Visual Quality Analysis 1976-77. The latter was a systematic survey of measurable factors commonly regarded as making landscape attractive, and was intended to give consistent coverage of all the county on a uniform basis. The survey was used as the basis for defining Derbyshire's Special Landscape Areas (local plan adopted 1988). Some areas of landscape in the plan area (for example the Hardwick Park area) score almost as highly on this analysis as places elsewhere in the county that have been included in the Derbyshire Special Landscape Areas.

9.55 Attractive landscape is an important asset which provides enjoyment for residents and also contributes to the image which the area puts across to tourists, potential investors and other visitors. Derbyshire County Council, in conjunction with district councils, is preparing a landscape character assessment, which will identify the essential elements of the landscape quality of different parts of the district. When completed, this landscape character assessment will become a material consideration in the determination of planning applications, and the principle elements of it will be incorporated as necessary into a future review of the local plan.

COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT

9.56 Peoples' enjoyment of the countryside in the plan area depends to a large extent on the way it is looked after. Whilst countryside recreation facilities such as picnic sites and viewpoints can be provided, their value is greatly reduced if the landscape around them loses its trees, hedgerows and/or sites of wildlife interest. Equally, littering and damage to footpaths, bridleways and trails, fences and trees can spoil the countryside.

9.57 Countryside management is the term used to describe programmes of action looking after the countryside for the mutual benefit of those who work there, for wildlife, and for people who use the countryside for recreation. It usually involves planting and managing small amenity woodlands, trees and shrubs and maintaining other key features in the landscape such as attractive hedgerows, walls and minor buildings. Other actions include clearing eyesores and dereliction, caring for wildlife habitats and reducing conflict between visitors and the normal day to day life of rural communities. Countryside management also interprets the countryside to adults and children, helping them understand and value it.

9.58 A number of organisations are already involved in countryside management in the district, but most of their work relates to specific facilities such as Creswell Crags. In the area around Hardwick Park, however, work undertaken by several agencies dovetails to form what is effectively a countryside management programme. Ault Hucknall Environmental Action Group has projects throughout the area and on the west side of the M1 the National Trust's rangers co-ordinate a programme of measures working with tenant farmers, volunteers, and other interested parties. At the Five Pits Trail and the Rowthorne Trail the county council's countryside rangers undertake similar activities from time to time. Taken together these initiatives extend over most of the area around and including Hardwick Park.

9.59 ENV 10      COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT

DEVELOPMENT AROUND HARDWICK PARK SHOWN ON THE PROPOSALS MAP WILL BE REQUIRED TO ACCORD WITH THE PROGRAMMES OF COUNTRYSIDE MANAGEMENT WHICH ARE IN OPERATION THERE. WHEN GRANTING PLANNING PERMISSION THE LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY WILL IMPOSE APPROPRIATE CONDITIONS OR SEEK TO ENTER INTO A PLANNING OBLIGATION UNDER SECTION 106 OF THE TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE ENVIRONMENTAL AND RECREATION IMPROVEMENTS, CONSERVE THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT AND LANDSCAPE, AND REDUCE CONFLICT BETWEEN RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND OTHER RURAL LAND USES.

DERELICT LAND

9.60 One of the most obvious legacies of deep mining in the district is derelict land. Disused pitheads, tips and railways add to the derelict sites (such as old gas works and clay pits) which this district has in common with non-mining areas. Old collieries have been reclaimed already at places like Tibshelf and Langwith and schemes are in hand for employment development on parts of Shirebrook, Bolsover, Creswell and Whitwell collieries. Reclaimed sites are ready for employment development at Bramley Vale, on the site of the old Glapwell Colliery and at Bolsover (south of the A632). Reclamation of the large expanse of colliery tips is a problem of an altogether different scale, however, and major reclamation schemes are still required at Shirebrook, Bolsover, Markham, Creswell and Whitwell. The local planning authority will continue to press for action on these sites in negotiation with the county council, British Coal Property, the East Midlands Development Agency and private minerals contractors as appropriate.

9.61 The plan area has a number of derelict railway lines. In Chapter 7 (Transport) it is proposed that most of these be safeguarded for future use as transport routes. Walking, cycling and horseriding are the intended modes of transport on several of these routes in the short term. Routes/trails suitable for long term use as footpaths, bridleways and cycle routes have been identified in policies CLT 10 and CLT 11. The Five Pits Trail from Newton north to Holmewood is already developed in this way, and in Chapter 6 (Community Facilities, Recreation, Leisure and Tourism) it is proposed that the Blackwell Trail (Westhouses to Fulwood) the Silverhill Line (Westhouses to Newton) and the Pleasley to Clowne Line should all be developed in this way. These projects will all require reclamation of derelict land.

9.62 In some cases the ecological value of areas of derelict land has increased so that they have become important habitats or refuges for wildlife. In other cases they may have become sites valued as amenities by local residents, or attractive features in the landscape. In circumstances of this kind it is unlikely to be appropriate for schemes of reclamation or reuse to be granted planning permission which would damage or destroy these qualities. The reverse can be true, however, in cases where reclamation of derelict land leads to the removal of eyesores, makes hazardous sites safe and controls or removes effects that damage the environment. These effects can include visual effects, noise, pollution, physical damage etc., all of which can be detrimental to the surrounding environment.

9.63 The district council has its own programme of small-scale schemes to restore derelict land. The programme is rolled forward each year with new schemes being brought in as the opportunity arises. In considering the land uses which will be appropriate following reclamation the local planning authority will welcome development that provides employment, community facilities, or other projects which will clearly benefit the community. Notwithstanding these preferences, proposals for reuse of derelict land will be assessed on the basis of the relevant policies throughout this local plan.

9.64 ENV 11      RECLAMATION OF DERELICT LAND

THE RECLAMATION AND REUSE (INCLUDING RESHAPING OF LANDFORM AND PLANTING UP) OF DERELICT LAND WILL BE ENCOURAGED, PROMOTED AND WELCOMED WHERE RECLAMATION OFFERS BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH:

EITHER
1) REMOVING AN EYESORE;

AND/OR
2) MAKING A HAZARDOUS SITE SAFE;

AND/OR
3) CONTROLLING OR REMOVING EFFECTS GENERATED BY THE SITE WHICH HAVE A DAMAGING IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT.

IN CASES WHERE DERELICT LAND MAKES A POSITIVE CONTRIBUTION TO LANDSCAPE OR AMENITY, OR PROVIDES HABITATS OF SIGNIFICANT WILDLIFE VALUE, PLANNING PERMISSION WILL NOT BE GRANTED FOR RECLAMATION WHERE IT WOULD RESULT IN THE LOSS OF THESE QUALITIES.

PLANNING PERMISSION WILL BE GRANTED FOR REUSE OF RECLAIMED LAND SUBJECT TO OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES IN THE PLAN.

MINERALS AND WASTE DISPOSAL

9.65 Although deep-mined coal extraction has ceased, the working of coal by opencast methods has increased in recent years. This method of mining often creates significant disturbance to the general environment and the locality. Similarly the quarrying of magnesian limestone within the district is a large land-user. In both cases the void created by the working of the site can accommodate beneficial uses over the longer term, for example, by providing a waste disposal facility to accommodate household and commercial waste. (Use for landfill sites may occur at sites where limestone has been quarried as this does not leave enough material to backfill the void. Landfill is not always associated with opencast mining as often little material is removed so there is an adequate amount left to backfill.) Waste disposal facilities can cause considerable environmental impacts, however, which can be particularly distressing to local residents when they follow on from long-term mineral working and prolong the period of adverse environmental impact.

9.66 Benefits that can come from actual restoration of a site include ecological and landscape benefits, achieved through tree planting schemes and nature conservation initiatives. Employment and other economic benefits can also derive from restoration and reuse of a worked site. Further opportunities of these kinds are now available through Landfill Tax funding, providing they are administered by trusts registered for that purpose.

9.67 The local plan cannot include policies for minerals and waste disposal, as the county council is by law the planning authority for these uses. Detailed policies are included in the approved Derbyshire Structure Plan and will be further endorsed by the production of the Derby and Derbyshire Minerals Local Plan and the Derby and Derbyshire Waste Disposal Local Plan. As a statutory consultee on planning applications and on the preparation of these local plans the district council will base its responses on the benefits or disadvantages of these issues to the local community and the protection of the environment. Where developments which have been granted planning permission will require controlled waste to be imported for the purposes of works relevant to that development, the developer is advised to contact the Environment Agency for guidance.

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