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Sustainable Construction and Retrofitting Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) - public consultation

Document overview

The core aim of the SPD is to provide simple, practical guidance which supports people to take retrofitting and sustainable construction measures, for all building types, whilst taking account of legal requirements and restraints.

This page gives you a summary of the contents of the document, covering the main themes and some detail on the practical information it offers homeowners and developers. 

The topics in the SPD

Select an item below, to read more about the three main topics of the SPD, and how they are covered in each chapter of the document. 

Retrofitting measures to improve existing buildings

We want to encourage people to make retrofitting measures to existing buildings, to improve their energy and water efficiency, and their adaptability to future climate change. Support for appropriate domestic scale renewables (such as solar panels) is also important. This SPD supports our our Climate Emergency target of achieving 65,000 retrofits, or building improvements which are designed to improve energy efficiency, in our district by 2030. In particular, the Retrofitting options chapter of the SPD provides detailed advice sheets which explain how to implement a wide range of retrofitting measures in existing buildings. 

The background advice in the Introduction to retrofitting section of the SPD is informed by the principles of the 'energy hierarchy approach'. This offers people a set of priorities to help to move away from reliance on fossil fuels:

  • 1 Use less energy
  • 2 Make buildings more energy efficient
  • 3 Generate more energy from renewable sources, such as sun, wind and water

The Introduction includes an Energy Saving ‘Quick Wins’ Checklist of steps to use less energy at home. This provides homeowners and occupiers with cheap, or free, energy and water improvement ideas which you can implement immediately. 

The Retrofitting options chapter provides a summary of retrofitting measures and their impact, to help you to choose which measures may be best for you. For each measure, this provides a rating for the following aspects:

  • Cost
  • Suitability for different types of buildings
  • Environmental impact 
  • Scalability (or how easy it is to replicate to a number of structures, to multiply savings)
  • Any Planning consents which may be necessary

Detailed guidance sheet pages follow for each retrofitting measure, to support you to decide if it's appropriate for you. The 29 guidance sheets have a consistent format, for ease of use:

  • A clear definition of what the measure will do, and how to implement it
  • Details on the likely cost
  • An assessment of how much energy the measure may save
  • Potential issues to be aware of
  • Additional information for buildings which are listed, heritage assets or in a conservation area
  • Sources of further guidance and support

The Further Information chapter of the SPD gives guidance and diagrams to help you to recognise features of your building, such as how it functions and is constructed. All of these factors will affect your decisions about which are the most suitable sorts of retrofitting to save energy and water, and where you might implement them.

This chapter also contains other information to support you in considering retrofitting measures for your building, including the following:

Principles to make construction more sustainable

This SPD aims to support householders and developers to approach design, construction and building projects of all sizes more sustainably. The third chapter of the SPD provides guidance on the nine key principles of sustainable construction, which are founded on well-established methodologies:

This chapter contains an Assessment Tools section, which gives details of various standards for, and methods of, certifying the sustainability of developments. For larger-scale developments, you may wish to use specialist expertise or specific known methodologies, such as Passivhaus or the Building Research Establishment Environmental Research Methodology (BREEAM). Built environment professionals can also find information on AECB Standards, allowing for self-certification of sustainable buildings, in addition to whole life carbon assessment calculators. There is also further guidance on sustainable construction resources and organisations within Chapter 5 of the SPD. 

How to achieve affordable warmth for everyone

The term ‘affordable warmth’ relates to helping people on low incomes, in fuel poor households, to improve the energy efficiency of their home so that they can afford to keep their home warm. One of the central aims of this SPD is to help enable affordable warmth for all.

The Achieving Affordable Warmth chapter of the SPD gives practical guidance to homeowners affected by fuel poverty, and aims to influence plans and policy created by developers and other built environment professionals.

This section provides the following guidance:

  • A better understanding fuel poverty and its impact, and the importance of affordable warmth
  • An overview of the prevalence of this issue in our district
  • Details on available solutions to the problem
  • The Draft SPD does not yet include affordable warmth case studies, but we are currently working on them. The final SPD will link to recent local instances which document how affordable warmth has been achieved, using the grant schemes available, and within complex planning constraints. 

How and when to use the new SPD

The guidance in the SPD is intended to help homeowners and occupiers, landlords, and any professionals involved in the built environment industry or development process. If you ask for planning, housing, building control or conservation guidance, for example through our Planning Pre-Application Advice or Development Team Services, our officers will rely on this SPD to provide you with consistent and quality advice.

The advice in this SPD should be used in conjunction with our Sustainable Construction Checklist SPD, which sets energy efficiency standards for certain types of development. The development applications which require a completed Sustainable Construction Checklist include the following:

  • All new build proposals
  • All medium scale proposals
  • Larger works on existing buildings

Available formats of the SPD document

For this consultation, you can choose to view the online version of the SPD, or to download a PDF file to view or print. There may be small differences in layout or organisation between the two versions of the document, although the policy content is the same. Please note that the document is very long, so you will save a lot of resources if you view the document online.

Throughout this consultation guide, we have provided links to the online version of the document, to help you to navigate your way around it. We are including a question about your preferred version of the document as part of the consultation, and we welcome feedback on the reasons for your preference, or any comments you have on how we can make it easier for you to access and use the document.