A call for all new-build homes to be ‘nitrate neutral’ causes development to halt

As Natural England calls for all new-build homes to be ‘nitrate neutral’, local authorities are struggling to progress planning applications, and so development is slowing down in certain areas of the country.

One such area is the Solent in Hampshire where a number of Greenfield developments have been put on hold while local authorities seek clarity on how to assess new planning applications.

The Government department has made these new recommendations in order to protect the environment. There are already high levels of nitrogen pollution affecting designated ecological sites around the Solent, and it is thought that new developments could cause further harm to the quality of the water if not monitored closely. The planning issue here is that increasing levels of nitrogen within the Solent water may restrict the growth, distribution and variety of food available for wading birds.

The request to Local Authorities now is to judge planning applications based on whether proposed developments will be nitrate neutral. This means that as part of new planning applications, developers should assess whether the proposed development is likely to increase the nitrogen load of the site.

Emily Temple, Founder and Director of ET Planning, said: “These new recommendations from Natural England will undoubtedly cause delays for developers as local authorities seek clarification on the consequences of issuing planning permission for land use which may or may not be able to demonstrate nitrate neutrality.

“Of course, Local Authorities also have housing development targets to meet and so, I’m sure, both the Government and Local Authorities, will want this resolved as soon as possible.

“Local authorities may look to learn more from the nitrogen impact mitigation scheme which has operated for some years within Poole and Purbeck in Dorset. If local authorities can use a similar approach it could alleviate unnecessary complexity which could be caused by authorities acting in silo and having differing approaches”.

Local authorities are expected to develop their own strategies in order to address impacts larger development sites (more than 50 dwellings). These strategies could include a financial contribution, either included within the Community Infrastructure Levy or levied separately.

Developers can access a ‘working draft’ Methodology from Natural England to help calculate the nitrogen load for new developments.

If you would like assistance with residential applications in the Solent area, please contact us.