Planning application - local requirement
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) policy requires new developments to be designed and planned in ways that minimise any loss or damage to existing habitats, and to compensate and off-set any damage caused by the development. New Policy NE3a (Biodiversity Net Gain) in our Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) gained full statutory weight when we adopted the LPPU on 19 January 2023.
When this requirement applies
All major and minor developments will need to submit Biodiversity Gain Information. This includes the following categories of application:
- Full planning application
- Full planning application (with listed building consent)
- Full planning application (with demolition in a conservation area)
- Full planning with advertisement consent
- Outline application with some matters reserved
- Outline application with all matters reserved
- Reserved matters application
A final Biodiversity Gain Plan must be submitted and approved by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) prior to the commencement of the development.
All planning projects subject to BNG requirements should consider biodiversity from the very outset, prior to site design, and ideally at site selection stage. This should help minimise the need for providing replacement habitats.
Householder applications, changes of use, permitted development are exempt from formal BNG requirements, but are encouraged to deliver habitat and species enhancements in accordance with policy D5e (Building Design).
What the Biodiversity Gain Information should include
The LPA will expect Biodiversity Gain Information to include a report, completed metric spreadsheet and GIS imagery. This may include further information towards a complete Biodiversity Gain Plan should such information be available.
The Biodiversity Gain information must cover the following:
- The pre-development biodiversity value of the site as calculated using the relevant Defra metric (provided in Excel format). For the main metric, this should be assessed using the Defra condition sheets. Any habitats damaged or destroyed post 30th Jan 2020 will need to be included within the calculations based on their former condition.
- The project design steps taken to avoid and minimise adverse biodiversity impacts (provided in text document).
- The proposed approach to enhancing biodiversity on-site (provided in text document).
- Any proposed off-site biodiversity enhancements (including the use of credits) that have been planned or arranged for the development (provided in text document).
- A working assessment of the expected Biodiversity Net Gain (provided in text document).
- The completed metric spreadsheets used to calculate the pre-development biodiversity value and to approximate the post-development value (provided in Excel format).
- Habitat condition sheet assessment with justifications (provided in text document).
- Maps of baseline habitats, an annotated Ecological Mitigation Map, and illustrative post-development habitat proposals including retained and proposed new features (required as a separate document with imagery produced using GIS software).
BNG practice is still in development, so the guidance provided here is likely to evolve. Please check this page for updates, directly before submitting your planning application.
Natural England have produced a Green Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide which provides practical, evidence-based advice for good quality green infrastructure, including how to:
This approach to development incentivises the avoidance of damage and loss of highly valued habitats and aims to result in the creation and improvement of habitats in locations which will deliver the best outcomes for biodiversity. We have made a series of useful datasets available on our public mapping interface to be used when producing Biodiversity Gain Information, plans and completing the metric.