Residents are being asked to help shape new planning guidance designed to protect and improve biodiversity and nature in the city.
The council has launched a consultation on its Draft Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD.)
Over the next six weeks, residents and stakeholders, including developers, landowners, planning agents, community groups and environmental organisations, will be asked to comment on the document, which aims to help people seeking planning consent to understand the importance of biodiversity. It includes practical advice and information on how new developments can conserve and enhance nature.
Rich local biodiversity
The document outlines Brighton & Hove’s rich local biodiversity, highlighting important sites and special habitats such as chalk grassland, ancient woodland and coastal vegetated shingle and the importance of protecting local wildlife such as the house sparrow, swift and hedgehog.
It provides advice on ways to integrate biodiversity into the design of new development. This could range from wildlife friendly and productive planting as part of landscaping and habitat improvement and restoration, where feasible, to simpler measures incorporated in new buildings such as bee and swift bricks/boxes, living walls and roofs and hedgehog highways.
Clear and strong guidance
The current Nature Conservation and Development SPD, adopted in 2010, was prepared to support the 2005 Brighton & Hove Local Plan.
Since then, national planning policy has changed significantly, setting out clearer and stronger guidance for achieving improvements for nature conservation and biodiversity, and the City Plan Part One has been adopted requiring development to achieve biodiversity gains.
Local priorities have also changed and the need to address the climate crisis and reverse the decline in species and habitats has been recognised through the Climate and Biodiversity emergencies declared in 2018.
The council’s Corporate Plan includes an objective to promote, protect and invest in biodiversity; while the Carbon Neutral Programme includes various actions required to address the climate and biodiversity emergency, including preparing an updated SPD.
The Draft Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Supplementary Planning Document identifies key biodiversity matters that need to be considered during the planning process.
It includes a step-by-step guide of how and when biodiversity should be considered in the development process, from the very early design stages through to the construction and operational stages is also included.
Following the six-week consultation, comments will be considered, revisions made, and the guidance is expected to be approved by councillors later this summer.
Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said: “We are incredibly lucky in Brighton & Hove to have a variety of species rich habitats, from downland and woodland to our 8-mile coastline.
“We all have a role to play in helping to protect and preserve these habitats, the species they support, and making space for nature to thrive in our city, so I’d encourage residents to take part in this consultation and help us ensure that biodiversity and nature conservation become a top priority for those wishing to build in our city.”
The consultation will run until 21 March.