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Chapter 5
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
 
5.1 Objectives
   
  1) To make the best use of all resources, improve the quality of life and well being, and increase social inclusion.
  2) To apply the sequential test to locations for development, giving preference to locations which are highly accessible by public transport, cycling and walking, maximise the re-use of buildings and previously developed land and promote mixed uses.
  3) To minimise waste and consumption of resources (energy, water, land and natural resources), increase the use of renewable resources and the re-use and recycling of resources.
  4) To ensure that the Local Plan reflects the needs of all residents, including those subject to discrimination or disadvantage.
 
5.2 Sustainable Development
   
5.2.1 The concept of sustainability is about maintaining the whole environment, not only the atmosphere, ecosystems and natural resources, but other elements such as the urban form, buildings, the use of land, transportation of people and goods, how energy is used and what is done with our waste. Sustainability is mainly concerned with how development and change is managed and involves not only the physical elements of the environment but also how our present actions will affect the health, the economy and quality of life of future generations.
5.2.2 The government in 1999 stated in, “A better quality of life, a strategy for sustainable development in the UK”, that development and growth should be sustainable. This was reinforced in PPG12 – Development Plans.
5.2.3 It also recommended that Local Plans should be subject to a “sustainability appraisal” to demonstrate how environmental/sustainability considerations have been taken into account in the formulation of policies and proposals. A full “sustainability appraisal” has been carried out on the Local Plan.
5.2.4 It is essential that the concept of sustainability is a key element of the review of the Local Plan, and as such it forms an integral part of the vision, goals, objectives, key proposals and policy areas of each chapter.
5.2.5 In many ways the original design concepts of the new town were relatively sustainable; however, to make Harlow a more sustainable town will require solutions tailored to reflect the town’s local circumstances and unique character, with input from the local community through such initiatives as the Local Agenda 21 Action Plan (2000).
5.2.6 A number of issues linked to sustainability are covered in more detail in other Chapters. This includes pollution, biodiversity, the Green Belt, Green Wedges and other open spaces, nature conservation and water supply and quality. Particular overarching sustainable issues which do not link to other chapters are set out in this Chapter.
 
5.3 Protecting and Enhancing Environmental Wealth
   
5.3.1 The Council’s Vision, Mission Statement and Values for Harlow are based on views expressed by the local community. In relation to the environment it is stated that the Council aims to “ensure that Harlow’s green open spaces stay that way; that our town has a pleasant living and working environment; and, that these things get better for future generations”.
5.3.2 PPG1 states that the planning system and preparation of development plans in particular, can contribute to the objectives of ensuring that development and growth are sustainable. The sum total of decisions in the planning system, as elsewhere, should not deny future generations the best of today’s environment.
 
 
SD1 Development proposals which protect and enhance the environmental wealth of the District will be permitted.
5.3.3 There are a number of themes to sustainable development that are set out in government guidance, in the Regional Planning Guidance (RPG), and in the Structure Plan. The first is regeneration, next sequential approach, third is integrating development and travel, and the last is protection of the environment.
 
5.4 Regeneration
   
5.4.1 The Local Plan will use Harlow’s identification as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration (PAER) in Regional Planning Guidance for the South East to regenerate the town and foster social inclusion in a sustainable way. This will be through development proposals and partnership initiatives for housing, employment, leisure, community and other facilities and through policies for transport, urban renewal and renaissance.
5.4.2 The need for regeneration, and the approaches proposed, are expanded at key stages in the Local Plan and particularly in the Economic Regeneration Chapter.
 
 
SD2 To maximise the opportunities offered by Harlow’s status as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration, development proposals that facilitate regeneration and renewal of the urban fabric and infrastructure in order to improve the local economy will be permitted. This will be achieved through a partnership approach where appropriate.
 
5.5 Appplying the Sequential Test
   
5.5.1 The Council is required to assess the capacity of the urban area to accommodate the development requirements of the town, and has carried out an Urban Capacity Study which has informed the Local Plan. Government guidance and the Structure Plan require sites for development to be prioritised in accordance with the following sequential test:
  a) a) Maximise the re-use of previously developed land and the conversion and re-use of existing buildings, particularly where they are empty or under-used, within the town’s urban area before using greenfield sites;
  b) b) Planned extensions to the urban area, which maximise the development potential of sites, are the next most sustainable option after building on appropriate sites in the urban area;
  c) And finally, new development around nodes in good public transport corridors.
5.5.2 Development must also be located where there are adequate jobs, public transport, infrastructure, utilities, services and facilities, and be assessed against constraints such as unstable land, contamination and flood risk.
5.5.3 The development sites in the Local Plan have been assessed against the above, and this is described in more detail in the “sustainability appraisal”.
 
 
SD3

In allocating land for development and when considering development proposals the following should be taken into consideration:

  1. The promotion of sustainable development;
  2. Social inclusion and the improvement of quality of life and well being;
  3. The sequential test, so that preference is given to the use of previously developed land and existing buildings;
  4. The facilitation of regeneration;
  5. There should be no loss of BAP (Essex Biodiversity Action Plan) habitats or species, other protected species or areas of statutory or non-statutory designated sites or other habitats that can be shown to be of similar value.
 
5.6 Mixed Uses: Intergrated Development and Travel
   
5.6.1 A major challenge for the Local Plan is to provide people with a choice so that it is possible for them to live much closer to their jobs, the shops and community facilities so that the need to travel long distances is reduced. This enables a choice of travel modes, so that walking or cycling is preferred and public transport can be used instead of the car. The Local Plan will seek to achieve this by encouraging compatible mixed uses; of housing, employment, leisure, shops, social and community uses and services on the same site or in close proximity. The Local Transport Plan is also material to this aim.
5.6.2 Structure Plan Policy BE2 supports mixed use town centres, and urban regeneration areas, in major new developments and in other urban areas well supported by public transport.
5.6.3 The Town Centre and neighbourhood centres present the best opportunities for achieving a compatible mix of uses which are also essential to maintain their vitality and viability. Within existing residential and industrial areas the need to avoid incompatible uses mean that there will be few occasions where alternative uses, to those generally existing, will be acceptable. Opportunities arise to build-in compatibility between uses in new developments and mixed use proposals will be required in development briefs, in the Newhall Master Plan and in urban regeneration schemes. When considering mixed uses in major residential developments like Newhall, proposals should include affordable housing, community facilities, services, shops, and workspaces.
5.6.4 It is important to ensure that mixed use development does not intensify so that it becomes incompatible with adjoining uses. This will be done through the use of conditions or legal agreements when granting planning permission.
5.6.5 Whilst elements such as servicing, access and design criteria all have to be met, a more flexible approach may be taken to car parking and density, particularly where located in proximity to public transport.
 
 
SD4

Proposals for mixed use development within the town centre and neighbourhood centres will be granted planning permission if all the following criteria are met:

  1. The promotion of sustainable development;
    a) Retail uses;
    b) Cultural uses;
    c) Leisure uses
    d) Residential, particularly of the upper floors, as part of redevelopment proposals.
  2. There is no loss of retail or other business use which would adversely affect the viability and vitality of the centre, or result in the loss of community, cultural or leisure uses due to the change of use or redevelopment.
  3. When considering residential proposals car parking standards may be reduced or no car parking may be required where sites are located in centres and adjacent to public transport.
 
 
SD5

Mixed use proposals within the rest of Harlow, including residential and industrial areas, will be granted planning permission if criteria (1) and (2) are met:

  1. The proposed uses are compatible and do not prejudice the amenity, function or character of an area;
  2. In an accessible location.
 
 
SD6

Where there is concern over future possible adverse effects from intensification of a use, a condition or a legal agreement will be required to control later changes of use.

 
5.7 Energy
   
5.7.1 Energy generation and supply has significant environmental impacts from the local to the international level. Ultimately the reserves of fossil fuels are non-renewable and finite resources, and have been associated with a number of environmental problems, which include global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain and deteriorating local air quality.
5.7.2 A sustainable approach to energy means that consumers must meet their energy needs with less energy consumption through improved energy efficiency, and promoting the potential of renewable/alternative energy sources which have a lower environmental impact.
5.7.3 Major development proposals will be encouraged to minimise energy use through an Energy Report which details how the development will minimise energy use and include renewable energy.
5.7.4 Renewable energy refers to energy from the sun, wind, plants, water and from within the earth itself, and they have the potential to make an important contribution to future energy needs. Renewable energy schemes are promoted by Structure Plan Policy EG2, and although it is recognised that renewable energy sources create their own localised environmental impacts, they have clear advantages over the use of fossil fuels. The Government’s document “The New and Renewable Energy Prospects for the 21st Century, Conclusions in Response to the Public Consultation”, confirms that the current target is to see 10% of UK electricity requirements being met from renewables by 2010, subject to the costs on consumers being acceptable.
5.7.5 Energy efficient power schemes are principally Combined Heat and Power, which uses the heat produced during electricity generation to simultaneously provide for space and water heating, and where the environmental impacts are much less than conventional electricity production.
5.7.6 The Eastern Region Renewable Energy Planning Study (July 1997) identified solar technologies as the largest contribution to renewable energy resources in Essex (48%), and biomass, landfill gas and wind power may offer other opportunities. This study has been updated by the Report to the East of England Sustainable Development Round Table which identifies a 14% renewable energy target for the East of England Region and a 9% target for Essex. These targets are based on an assessment of each region and the county’s capacity to generate electricity from all the potential renewable resources and therefore vary from the national target of 10%. However, because some sources, particularly wind turbines, can be very visually intrusive they will need careful consideration. Other possible adverse environmental effects of renewable energy are pollution, odour and noise.
 
 
SD7

Development proposals for renewable energy facilities will be granted planning permission provided there are no significant adverse environmental impacts which outweigh the benefits and they are subject to appropriate environmental safeguards.

 
5.8 Waste Reduction. Re-Use and Recovery
   
5.8.1 The amount of waste is increasing, and scarce resources are being consumed to produce objects that are often quickly thrown away. Landfill sites are rapidly being filled and also carry some environmental risks. Landfill tax also promotes alternative use of waste and a reduction in its quantity. Essex County Council is responsible for planning for waste and the disposal of waste, and the Council for waste collection.
5.8.2 The Adopted Essex and Southend Waste Local Plan sets out the planning framework for waste management within the County. The Council is supportive of the new strategy of Essex County Council, and in particular, the target of 40% recycling and composting waste by the end of 2004 and 60% by 2007 and the endorsement of the principle of the following waste hierarchy:
  a) Reduce the amount of waste created;
  b) Re-use of waste to be maximised
  c) Recycling and composting
  d) Recovery of energy
  e) Dispose only waste which cannot be treated or managed in any other way.
5.8.3 During construction the Council will expect waste to be minimised, waste to be disposed of appropriately, and the use of recycled materials to be maximised. Resources and waste are also reduced if a building is durable as this will reduce the need for early redevelopment.
 
 
SD8

Major development proposals should demonstrate how all the following have been addressed:

  1. How the waste of materials during construction will be minimised, re-used and recycled;
  2. How unavoidable waste will be disposed of;
  3. How the use of recycled materials has been maximised;
  4. That buildings are durable, in the materials being used;
  5. That materials used have a low environmental impact.
5.8.4 The re-use of waste during demolition and construction is important in reducing the amount of waste.
 
 
SD9

Development that results in the movement of the soil resource should:

  1. Employ techniques which minimise loss and/or damage to soil during handling and storage;
  2. Optimise the use of soil, either on the development site itself or at suitable alternative locations for “soft development”( e.g. landscaping);
  3. Prevent the unnecessary mixing of topsoil and subsoil. On development sites where they are to be replaced, ensure they are replaced in the correct order and depth;
  4. For developments where soil is to be removed, stored and replaced, a soil movement strategy should form part of the proposal.
5.8.5 Recycling waste is most relevant to the Council, and relates to recycling and composting from waste. The Government’s White Paper “Waste Strategy 2000 for England and Wales” (May 2000) set the targets to recycle or compost at least 25% of household waste by 2005, 30% by 2010 and 33% by 2015. The Local Plan can contribute to achieving this in Harlow by requiring major developments visited by large numbers of the public to provide public recycling sites. Also by seeking provision of facilities for the separation and storage of materials, such as paper, glass, aluminium, plastics, textiles and garden waste (if on-site composting not possible).
5.8.6 Discussion with Cleansing and Environment Services is recommended at an early stage of the design process of the development. The Council will produce Supplementary Planning Guidance on the design implications of storing recyclable goods for collection.
 
 
SD10

Facilities for the recycling of waste as part of major development proposals should be provided as follows:

  1. Facilities for the public to recycle waste (e.g. recycling sites, bring systems or kerbside collection);
  2. Source separation and storage facilities, prior to collection, for waste generated in existing and proposed residential property and industrial and commercial premises.
 
5.9 Waste Conservation
   
5.9.1 Harlow is in the eastern part of the country; one of the driest regions where increased demand for water has significant environmental impact. Developments which maximise water efficiency and include suitable water conservation measures will be welcomed. The Council will encourage the efficient use and conservation of water by seeking water recycling schemes, such as grey water recycling, the provision of water butts and other rainwater collection schemes. Incorporate water conservation measures in design. Surface water drainage and other water policies are in the Community Facilities and Public Utilities Chapter.
   
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