New planning guidance designed to protect and improve biodiversity and nature in the city has been approved by Brighton & Hove City councillors.
The Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) aims to help people seeking planning consent to better understand the importance of biodiversity.
It includes practical advice, information and case studies to demonstrate how new developments can conserve and enhance nature.
The final document was drawn up following a citywide consultation, which attracted responses from residents, environmental and wildlife groups and national organisations. Changes made following the consultation have included the addition of a case study of the Butterfly Bank at Dorothy Stringer School and signposting to help the reader navigate the document.
Rich local biodiversity
The Biodiversity and Nature Conservation SPD outlines the city’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, to simpler measures such as bee and swift bricks/boxes incorporated in new buildings, living walls and roofs and hedgehog highways.
The document also 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.
Species rich habitats
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’m delighted that we now have a planning document which will help ensure that biodiversity and nature conservation is a top priority for those wishing to build in our city.”
The council’s previous 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, adopted in 2016 requires development to achieve biodiversity gains where possible.
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.
Investing in biodiversity
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 City Downland Estate Plan also looks at how we use the council-owned land around the city to improve public access, community food-growing, biodiversity and meet our carbon-reduction commitments.