Brentwood Local Plan 2016 - 2033 (Pre-Submission, Regulation 19)

Ended on the 19th March 2019
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8. Natural Environment

(2) 8.1 The policies in this chapter seek to ensure future development avoids and/or positively mitigates the impact on the natural environment and achieves sustainable, well-designed places that promote community well-being. The policies help deliver Strategic Objective 4.

SO4: Deliver Beautiful, Biodiverse, Clean and a Functional Natural Environment, where resources are carefully managed to avoid adverse impact; and where our natural heritage is protected, ecosystem services are restored and enhanced and integrated back into the built environment through multi-functional green and blue infrastructure.

8.2 The borough of Brentwood currently enjoys a varied built and natural landscape. From the main urban area of Brentwood with its green wedges, and the settlements of Shenfield, Pilgrims Hatch and Hutton at its core, to the dispersed, yet neighbouring northern villages and the more distant villages in the south; it is set within the varied landscape of intrinsic character and beauty within the Essex countryside. This enables Brentwood residents to enjoy the best of both worlds – the urban and the rural benefits - leading to the descriptive reference as the Borough of Villages.

(1) 8.3 While Brentwood currently enjoys this rich and varied natural landscape, the pressure to grow and accommodate change must not be complacent to this privileged position. The policies in this section, therefore, aim to ensure this natural heritage is protected and enhanced for future generations to enjoy. The policies aim to:

  1. maintain the character of Borough of Villages, while improving public access in between through ecological networks and green infrastructure;
  2. harness the characteristics and intrinsic value of the landscape to inspire landscape-led developments throughout Brentwood;
  3. Conserve and enhance sites of significant international, national and local geological, ecological and landscape value;
  4. minimising the impacts and providing opportunities for net gains for biodiversity through habitat improvements and establishing ecological networks and green infrastructure provision;
  5. maintaining the character and ecology of the Essex Wildlife Trust living landscapes; and
  6. preventing unacceptable levels of soil, air, water, noise and land pollution, ensuring development contributes to improvements in local environmental conditions.
  1. The Council is committed to the conservation and enhancement of the natural environment in line with the NPPF (2018, Section 15). The Council has a duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to have regard to biodiversity conservation and the positive conservation management of Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) within the borough.
  2. (3) Future growth is planned in sustainable locations to ensure that the quality of our environment is valued and sustained. Consideration for integration, conservation and enhancement of the natural and built environment to promote the health and well-being of inhabitants is paramount. This will be achieved through the considered management of development in line with the government's 25 Year Environment Strategy and NPPF[1].

Summary of Natural Assets

8.6 The majority of the landscape is dominated by Wooded Farmland comprising of undulating areas of deciduous and mixed woodland interspersed with arable fields, mature hedgerows, smaller pastures and paddocks, and narrow lanes. Brentwood has 15 areas of ancient woodland. The Thames Chase Community Forest Area covers the south and south-west of Brentwood. The Thames Chase Plan (2016)[2] describes the landscape as 'Land of the Fanns', comprising of marshy land/low lying district with fens, forests and farming; Fanns being a Saxon term for low marshy land or a low-lying district. This area provides an inspirational image of a forest landscape that is being developed to Community Forest principles.

8.7 The south of the borough is dominated by the Horndon Fens characterised by widespread arable agriculture with a flat landscape dominated by large field patterns and hedgerows.

8.8 The Roding River Valley in the north-west comprises of linear patches of woodland along the valley with mature hedgerows.

(5) 8.9 Amongst this backdrop are a number of interspersed Country Parks, namely St Faith's, Weald, Hutton, Warley, Thorndon and Merrymeads.

8.10 Warley, Weald and Thorndon area are also on Historic England's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special Historic Interest in England.

(1) 8.11 The borough contains three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): Curtis Mill Green, Thorndon Park and The Coppice, Kelvedon Hatch. Hutton Country Park is also a statutory Local Nature Reserve, while there are additionally 147 Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), identified for their value as semi-natural habitats and for their role in environmental education and public engagement with wildlife. In the Mill Green area, lies the Forest of Writtle, which is a designated Ancient Landscape. All these sites are important landscapes recognised for their special cultural, horticultural, historic and landscape qualities.

8.12 Other natural features of conservation interest include commons, small copses, trees, tree belts, woodlands, ponds and watercourses and hedgerows. Recreational impacts already pose a challenge to conserving these sites. Ancient hedged landscape of narrow lanes links historic farmsteads and hamlets in the Brentwood Countryside.

8.13 A number of sites within or partly within Brentwood are also classed as the Living Landscapes[3]: Havering and Brentwood Ridge (19), Thorndon Woods (23), Ramsden Heath and Woods (34), Writtle Forest (36), Upper Roding: Abbess to M25 (18), Lower Roding: M25 to Chigwell (17) and Tylers Common (22).

(3) Protecting and Enhancing Natural Heritage

(4) POLICY NE01: Protecting and Enhancing the Natural Environment

A. The Council will support proposals which minimise the use of natural resources and proactively conserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment according to their international, national and local significance, aiming to achieve:

  1. ecological connections between significant sites through multi-functional green and blue infrastructure provision;
  2. biodiversity net-gain across all green and blue infrastructure;
  3. ecological and ecosystem restoration; and
  4. habitat and species conservation and enhancement (both statutory and non-statutory, including priority habitats and species) of international, national and local importance commensurate with their status.

B. Proposals will not be permitted if potential impacts will lead to the deterioration or loss, either direct or indirect, of the borough's natural designated and non-designated heritage assets, including biodiversity, geodiversity, landscape character and any other aspect of ecological potential, priority habitats and/or species, water cycle, green wedges, ancient woodlands and landscapes.

C. Development should avoid adverse impact on existing natural heritage assets as a first principle and enable net gains by designing in landscape and biodiversity features and enhancements. Where adverse impacts are unavoidable, they must be adequately and proportionately mitigated in accordance with their international, national and local significance. Proposals must demonstrate how they have taken all necessary steps of avoidance, minimisation and then mitigation; if insufficient to fully address adverse impacts, consideration will be given to compensation measures. Following this process, a proposal will only be supported subject to the following hierarchy:

  1. where a site of international importance, being a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) or Ramsar site, would be affected, there has to be exceptional overriding reasons of human health, public safety or environmental benefit; impact on these international (European) sites will also be subject to Policy NE02;
  2. where a site of national importance, such as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or National Nature Reserve (NNR), would be affected, there has to be exceptional circumstances where the need for, and the benefits of, the proposal significantly outweigh both the potential impacts on the features of the site that make it of national importance and any broader impacts on the national and regional network of such sites; and
  3. where a site of local importance, such as a Local Wildlife Site (LWS), a protected species, a priority habitat or species, a site of local or regional importance, the achievement of water body good ecological potential, or the biodiversity value of the proposed development site as part of the wider network, would be affected, the need for and the benefits of the proposal must clearly outweigh the assessed impacts.

D. Proposals will be required to demonstrate that all potential adverse impacts on natural heritage assets are accompanied by an appropriate appraisal, investigating all individual and cumulative potential impacts and demonstrate what measures are to take place to avoid adverse impacts. Where appropriate development proposals will be required to be accompanied by:

  1. an ecological survey as appropriate to the nature and scale of the proposal, identifying links to similar ecosystems within proximity of the development site in line with Policy BE18 Green and Blue Infrastructure;
  2. a landscape scheme detailing new planting requirements and where appropriate, replacement trees of a value commensurate or greater to that which is lost, boundary treatments and proposals for ecological enhancement;
  3. an arboricultural assessment detailing the measures to conserve and/or justification for the removal of any trees or hedgerows during on-site construction;
  4. details of landscaping maintenance arrangements; and
  5. a method statement for any land raising and/or dispersal of excavated or dredged materials.

8.14 Areas of landscape, biodiversity and geodiversity interest and local distinctiveness within the borough will be protected from harm and their retention; enhancement and restoration will be encouraged. Where feasible, proposals should promote the use of trees, hedges, wildlife gardens, allotments, ponds, green roofs/walls, roosting boxes and wider habitat creation. In exceptional circumstances, where the landscape, biodiversity, social or economic benefits of a proposal are considered to outweigh the loss of a feature, impact on landscape character, or existing habitat, development may be permitted subject to adequate compensatory measures being implemented. In line with the NPPF, planning permission will not be permitted for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

8.15 Local Wildlife Sites are a network of 147 diverse assemblages of ecologically important sites within the borough, identified as part of the Local Wildlife Site Review (2012).

(1) 8.16 The Council acknowledges the sensitive biodiversity sites just beyond the borough boundary, including Basildon Meadows SSSI, Norsey Wood SSSI and Epping Forest SSSI and Special Area of Conservation. Proposals likely to have an adverse effect on these neighbouring sites will be assessed per policy NE01 above.

8.17 Where there is a confirmed presence, or reasonable likelihood, of a legally protected species or priority species on an application site, the applicant will be required to demonstrate that adverse impacts upon the species have been avoided, and where they cannot be avoided adequately mitigated. Mitigation must conform to the requirements of relevant legislation and Natural England Standing Advice. Where impacts cannot be adequately mitigated, the proposal will not be permitted.

8.18 All stages of development must be considered when assessing the impact and cumulative impact on wildlife sites both within and in proximity to the borough of Brentwood.

(1) 8.19 The Council will take a precautionary approach where insufficient information is provided about avoidance, management, mitigation and compensation measures. The Council will secure management, mitigation and compensation measures through planning conditions/obligations where necessary.

8.20 Proposals that result in a net gain in Habitat value will in principle be supported, subject to other policies in this Plan. Where Priority Habitats are likely to be adversely impacted by the proposal, the developer must demonstrate that adverse impacts will be avoided, and impacts that cannot be avoided are mitigated onsite. Where residual impacts remain, offsite compensation will be required so that there is no net loss in quantity and quality of Priority habitat in the borough of Brentwood.

8.21 The Council supports the Essex Wildlife Trust Living Landscape's vision to 'restore, recreate and connect wildlife habitats'. Within each Living Landscape, opportunities for the preservation, restoration and recreation of priority habitats, ecological networks and populations of priority species will be supported in order to conserve and enhance strategic wildlife corridors and habitats in Essex. Development proposals that would deliver these opportunities will in principle be supported, subject to other policies within this Plan. Development resulting in a significant adverse impact on the ecological function of these Living Landscapes will be refused.

(1) 8.22 In additional to the statutory protections and obligations for designated sites, proposals must also demonstrate how they are responding to:

  1. the Essex Biodiversity Action Plan (2011);
  2. the Essex Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes vision; and
  3. the Thames Chase Plan.

(4) POLICY NE02: Recreational Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS)

A. New residential development within the RAMS Zone of Influence will be subject to proportionate contributions to deliver all mitigation measures identified (including strategic measures) through project level HRAs, to mitigate any recreational disturbance impacts in compliance with the Habitat Regulations and Habitats Directive.

B. Proposals will need to implement on-site options for avoidance and/or reduction in recreational disturbance impact through sensitive layout and design measures and green and blue infrastructure proportionate to the scale of the development.

C. The Council will seek appropriate financial contributions towards off-site mitigation as prescribed in the Essex Coastal RAMS mitigation strategy and the Epping Forest RAMS mitigation strategy (as applicable).

8.23 Development in the borough has the potential to increase the recreational pressures and disturbance on existing European Level sensitive habitats, the Essex Estuaries Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Crouch and Roach Estuaries Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation.

8.24 Recreational disturbance has been further considered in an Appropriate Assessment which identifies the need to prepare Recreational disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) for these locations.

(1) 8.25 Following consultation with Natural England, a RAMS is being prepared on behalf of nine district /borough councils and Southend and Thurrock unitary authorities, to cover the Essex Estuaries SAC and Crouch together with the Roach Estuaries SPA, the Colne and Blackwater Estuaries SPAs and Ramsar sites, to clarify the area of potential impacts (within the Zone of Influence) with a view to their subsequent adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) with an associated charging schedule. This work has assessed the Zones of Influence for each of the habitat sites and where residential development is proposed in these Zones, mitigation for in combination impacts is required.

8.26 A similar assessment process is being carried out for the Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation involving the local planning authorities that have been identified as having the potential for impact by their geographical proximity to Epping Forest. The detailed evidence base has now been prepared and has identified the new residential development Zones of Influence of these internationally important protected biodiversity sites.

(1) 8.27 Any residential development that is likely to affect the integrity of these European sites will be required to either contribute towards mitigation measures identified in the RAMS or, in exceptional circumstances, identify and implement bespoke mitigation measures to ensure compliance with the Habitat Regulations.

8.28 Prior to the adoption of a Supplementary Planning Document, or similar, development in the Zones of Influence will be required to make an appropriate assessment of the in combination impact of the development and identify suitable mitigation proposals, in line with Natural England advice.

(3) POLICY NE03: Trees, Woodlands, Hedgerows

A. Development will not be permitted where it would have a detrimental effect on, or result in the loss of, significant landscape heritage or a feature of ecological importance, including trees, woodlands or hedgerows.

B. A development proposal will only be supported where it seeks to conserve and enhance any existing tree, woodland, hedge and/or hedgerow of value that would be affected by the proposed development.

C. Where potential adverse impacts on trees, woodland, hedges and hedgerows is unavoidable, a proposal must demonstrate that the impact has been investigated. Where investigations show that such adverse impacts are possible a statement will be required to:

  1. assess all trees, woodland, hedges and/or hedgerows that are likely to be affected by the proposal, describing and assessing their value;
  2. set out how the details of the proposal have been decided upon in terms of their impact on the value of trees, woodland, hedges and hedgerows and how adverse impacts will seek to be avoided, or if unavoidable how they will be minimised.

D. The loss, threat or damage to any tree, woodland, hedge and/or hedgerow of visual, heritage or nature conservation value will only be acceptable where:

  1. it is addressed firstly by seeking to avoid the impact, then to minimise the impact, and finally where appropriate, to include mitigation measures; or
  2. there are sound arboricultural reasons to support the proposal.

E. Where impacts remain the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location must clearly outweigh the loss, threat or damage.

F. Where loss, threat or damage cannot be fully addressed through minimisation and/ or mitigation measures the proposal may be supported if alternative measures such as reinstatement of features, additional landscaping, habitat creation or tree planting, will compensate for the harm and can be implemented and established before development starts.

G. Proposals for major scale development will be required to include additional new trees to form part of the landscaping for the proposal, the form of which will be determined by negotiation.

H. Trees or groups of trees subject to Tree Preservation Order protection will be protected from damage or removal, including their root protection zone.

8.29 Advice is available to woodland owners from the Essex Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Essex County Council, Thames Chase Project Team or the Forestry Commission as to the most appropriate management of their sites. Woodland management must comply with the UK Forestry Standard and follow practices laid down in the Forestry Commission's Environmental Guidelines. In any new woodland planting scheme, the Council will seek the planting of tree and shrub species suited to the sites and aims of the scheme. Where conservation is the primary objective, there will be a presumption in favour of native species. The Forestry Commission is the Statutory Authority with powers to provide grant aid and issue Felling Licences. The Forestry Commission is also charged with the administration of the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) Regulations (1999).

8.30 Trees and hedgerows are protected in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Tree Regulations 2012 and Hedgerow Regulations 1997. The Council understands that the contribution that trees, either as woodland or individual specimens and hedgerows, make to the landscape is significant. In particular, the range of benefits for wildlife and people they provide.

8.31 Trees, woodlands, hedges and hedgerows provide important habitats for a range of species, provide shelter, help reduce noise and atmospheric pollution and also store carbon dioxide, helping to mitigate against climate change. They add to the character and quality of the local environment, can have historic value (e.g. ancient woodlands) and can offer recreation opportunities supporting health and well-being.

8.32 Trees, woodlands, hedges and hedgerows, wherever appropriate, should be incorporate within a landscape scheme. This can assist in integrating the scheme into the wider local environment by providing some mature, established landscape elements. When this cannot be achieved, or it is known that trees are being lost to disease, mitigation or replacement compensatory measures will be required to ensure no loss to the overall value to the environment. These should be secured by condition or through a S106 Agreement.

8.33 Some specific trees or groups of trees are of particular value, such that their removal would have a significant impact upon the local environment and its enjoyment by the public. Where they are potentially under threat, the Council will make Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) to protect them. Where trees are covered by TPOs, the policy is intended to safeguard them from damage or removal unless there are overriding reasons for the development.

8.34 A hedge or hedgerows is generally found within a settlement and often has an amenity or ornamental role; a hedgerow is more commonly found in a rural setting, although some old hedgerows remain within settlements and often provide field boundaries and may comprise a range of native species. They make an important contribution to the character of an area and may be historically and occasionally archaeological important. They also contribute significantly to biodiversity. Therefore, like trees, hedgerows should be conserved for their amenity, biodiversity and historic value. Development that is likely to impact hedgerows must be subjected to an assessment against the criteria of the Hedgerow Regulations 1997.

8.35 If a hedgerow is deemed to be important under the Hedgerow Regulations, development proposals must demonstrate that adverse impacts upon the Important Hedgerow will be avoided, and impacts that cannot be avoided are mitigated on-site.

8.36 In considering development proposals, the Council will normally expect the retention and beneficial management of any existing hedgerow; where a hedgerow is to be removed, the Council will, where appropriate, require its replacement with native species, either within or neighbouring sites, as part of its mitigation strategy, or demonstrate how it will contribute to biodiversity net-gain through other appropriate habitat creation.

8.37 In granting planning permission for new development, where significant hedgerows are to be retained, the Council will ensure that these hedgerows are given appropriate protection during the building works, through the use of planning conditions.

POLICY NE04: Thames Chase Community Forest

A. Development proposals which fall within the Thames Chase Community Forest Arear will be expected to make a positive contribution towards its implementation in addition to other relevant policies within the Local Plan.

B. Developers will be expected to work collaboratively in partnership with the Land of the Fanns Partnership to develop scheme proposals through the masterplanning process, in line with Policy SP06 Effective Delivery of Development.

8.38 The Council supports the aims of the Thames Chase Plan, being:

  1. to conserve, improve and expand the woodland character of the Community Forest;
  2. to sustain the natural integrity of the Community Forest's air, land and water including wildlife;
  3. to integrate climate change adaption and mitigation responses into the developing Community Forest;
  4. to use the Community Forest to improve local health and well-being, volunteering, learning and employment; and
  5. to enable effective partnership working from national to local level to maximise the impact of available resources.

8.39 Thames Chase is a community forest of 9,842 hectares located in more than 47 sites in London and Essex. Brentwood Borough Council is one of the four local authority partners along with the Forestry Commission, Essex County Council, the Woodland Trust, Essex Wildlife Trust, the London Wildlife Trust and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Being one of 12 community forests established nationally since 1990, the forest covers over 500 hectares of woodland, common and recreational land within Brentwood Borough (about one quarter of the area of Thames Chase). Extended in 1999, the forest now incorporates Thorndon and Hartswood Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Warley Place Nature Reserve, with the area of the forest extending to the southern borough boundary and as far east as the A128.

8.40 Centred round regeneration, quality green space creation, management and community engagement, the Community Forest concept has increased woodland coverage from 9% to 15% locally, and secured funding to create over 330 hectares of new green space provision. Wider work involves extensive tree planting within the borough, opportunities for sport and recreation, wildlife conservation, agricultural and timber production.

8.41 The Thames Chase Plan provides a green framework, in line with the London Green Grid, for supporting Countryside Stewardship: woodland support applications and enhancing the local environment, including through landscaping, conservation works and upgrading of footpaths or bridleways. Such benefits are welcome, provided uses are consistent with wider Green Belt objectives, since they would not be considered as a justification for allowing inappropriate development in the Green Belt where development that would otherwise be unacceptable.

8.42 Thames Chase Plan[4] maintains the original commitment to developing strategic woodland, habitats and access on a forest-wide scale. However, there is a stronger emphasis on area-based project delivery that translates forest wide ambition into tangible, quantifiable initiatives on the ground. Brentwood Borough Council is a partner in the Land of the Fanns Partnership and supports the Landscape Conservation Action Plan (LCAP).

8.43 Landscaping proposals, both hard and soft, must form an integral part of development proposals. The Council will seek appropriate conditions and/ or planning obligations to secure the implementation of landscaping schemes and the replacement of trees, hedgerows or the conservation of natural features during the course of development. Payment for the maintenance and management of new landscaping may be sought and controlled via a planning obligation.

8.44 This policy provides a framework for conserving and enhancing biodiversity assets. The Council will support the creation, restoration, retention and enhancement of biodiversity interests. Where opportunities allow, the design of a development should incorporate beneficial biodiversity features, such as swift boxes, bat or bird boxes, bat bricks, green roofs or the creation and connection of wildlife corridors through landscaping or other means. New water features such as attenuation ponds that can provide new wetland areas, removal of redundant in-channel structures and culverts, can also create and restore wildlife habitats.

8.45 Biodiversity enhancement should be considered from the start of the development process. This will be assessed on a proportionate basis taking into account the size and type of development and its location.

Impacts on existing biodiversity should be minimised and mitigated through measures such as returning hard standing to green space, the installation of green roofs, green walls, the provision of landscaping, or off-site provision such as new street trees in order to achieve the principle of no net loss of biodiversity. The principle of no net loss can be met through off-site provision where site constraints mean that it cannot be achieved on site. Any off-site provision must be secured robustly. Rainwater attenuation features should be incorporated to achieve greenfield run off rates where possible.

(8) Promoting a Clean and Safe Environment

(2) POLICY NE05: Air Quality

A. Development is required to meet or exceed the 'air quality neutral' standard, especially within Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) and where development is near to, or promotes, land uses to be used by those particularly vulnerable to poor air quality (such as children and older adults).

B. Development proposals should minimise exposure to existing poor air quality and make provision to address local air quality exceedances through design solutions and measures such as the use of low or zero emission transport, reduced reliance on private motor vehicles, buffer zones around schools and other community infrastructure, amongst others.

C. Development proposals should give equal weight to the consideration of indoor air quality, with building design solutions specifying proven ventilation systems, especially with proposals which consider energy efficient building solutions, to avoid the unintended consequences of poor indoor ventilation.

D. An air quality impact assessment, based on current best practice, is required as part of the planning application for:

  1. major developments;
  2. employment led developments
  3. developments which will require substantial earthworks or demolition;
  4. developments which include education and health facilities or open space (including child play space);
  5. new build developments in areas of sub-standard air quality; and
  1. developments which propose the use of Combined Heat and Power, biomass boilers or similar solutions that might impact air quality.

E. Where an air quality assessment indicates that a development will cause harm to air quality or where end users could be exposed to poor air quality, development will be resisted unless mitigation measures are adopted to reduce the impact to acceptable levels.

F. New build developments which propose to provide any private, communal, publicly accessible open space or child play space in areas of sub-standard air quality are required to demonstrate that they have considered the positioning and design of the open space to reduce exposure of future users to air pollution.

8.47 AQMAs can be found on the Council's website. The Council will use planning obligations or conditions to ensure air quality impacts are addressed.

8.48 This policy aims to address existing air quality and ensure new development does not contribute to the worsening of air quality. Where necessary, the Council may require the development, through planning conditions, to undertake additional monitoring as part of the construction process, where the impact is deemed to be most significant.

8.49 Air quality assessment must also outline the measures to mitigate any adverse effects identified during construction or operation. This could include: reducing vehicular traffic levels, encouraging sustainable movement patterns, methods of carrying out construction, actions to reduce emissions throughout the lifetime of the building, reducing emissions from associated plant equipment, improving or greening the public realm, and ensuring decentralised energy facilities do not contribute to poor air quality. Best practice should be followed, such as Institute of Air Quality Management's (IAQM) Guidance on the assessment of dust from demolition and construction (2014).

8.50 Transport generated emissions are the main source of poor air quality in the borough. Monitoring data of air pollution in 2015 has shown that the air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide has been met since 2008, but four areas remain as problematic and defined as an AQMA designation. The areas that will remain as AQMAs are: M25/Brook Street Roundabout, A12/Warescot Road/ Hurstwood Avenue/Ongar Road, and A128/A1023 Junction (Wilson's Corner). Monitoring will continue and the AQMA areas adjusted accordingly.

(108) POLICY NE06: Flood Risk

A. Proposed development will be required to avoid where possible flood risk to people and property and manage any residual risk, taking account of the impacts of climate change by:

  1. applying the sequential test, directing development away from areas at risk of flooding, including those areas associated with surface water flood risk;
  2. if necessary, applying the exception test;
  3. safeguarding land from development that is required for current and future flood management; and
  4. using opportunities offered by new development to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding.

B. In areas designated as functional flood plains, or Critical Drainage Areas development will only be permitted in accordance with national policy and guidance, and then only if:

  1. proposals are located in the lowest appropriate flood risk zone with regard to guidance set in the Brentwood Strategic Flood Risk Assessment as part of the sequential test;
  2. development would not constrain the natural function of the flood plain, either by impeding flow or reducing storage capacity; and
  3. development is constructed so as to remain operational even at times of flood through resistant and resilient design.

C. Where development is permitted within flood risk areas, it must demonstrate that, where required, it will reduce fluvial and surface water flood risk and manage residual risks through appropriate flood mitigation measures, including emergency planning and response. These measures may include, but are not restricted to:

  1. land management, landscape and planting measures;
  2. SuDS, including source control techniques;
  3. water efficiency measures and, where appropriate, grey water use;
  4. strategic water storage;
  5. flow diversion and attenuation; and
  6. property level protection, which can include appropriate finished floor levels, safe area(s), emergency flood planning and flood resilience measures.

D. Applications will need to demonstrate that the sewerage provider has been contacted to identify whether the sewerage network has adequate capacity both on and off-site to serve the development and to assess the need to contribute to any additional connections for the development to prevent flooding or pollution of land and water courses.

E. Where sewerage capacity is identified as insufficient, development will only be permitted if it is demonstrated that improvements will be completed prior to occupation of the development.

F. Where the site is located within a Critical Drainage Area (CDA), development may have the potential to impact on the CDA in respect of surface water flooding. As a result of this, the site will require an individually designed mitigation scheme to address this issue.

8.51 This policy should be read in conjunction with Policy BE08 Sustainable Drainage, Policy NE01 Protecting and Enhancing the Natural Environment and Policy NE02 Recreational Disturbance Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS).

8.52 Flood risk include risk from all sources of flooding, including from rivers, from rainfall, from rising groundwater, which can overwhelm sewers and drainage systems, and from reservoirs, canals, lakes and other artificial sources. Incidences of high rainfall are forecast to increase in intensity as a result of climate change. Developing inappropriately in areas at risk from flooding, can put property and lives at risk; therefore, this policy seeks to ensure this does not happen.

8.53 Flood risk in Brentwood Borough is not limited to areas in very close proximity to local watercourses. Much flooding within the borough is the result of rapid surface water runoff and ponding, in areas with low lying roads. This means that drainage is equally important for avoiding flooding.

8.54 This Plan has been subject to a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA)[5] and Water Cycle Study[6] The Council has worked alongside Thames Water and Anglian Water to produce the Water Cycle Study to ensure there is sufficient capacity for water supply and waste water management, and to identify any gaps in capacity.

8.55 As a Lead Local Flood Authority, Essex County Council has produced Surface Water Management Plans for boroughs in Essex[7] and with updates to the Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) for the borough. Potential development sites in areas of identified flood risk have been subject to sequential and exception tests.

8.56 The Council will work in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority (Essex County Council) to manage and mitigate flood risk. All development proposals in areas at risk of flooding will need to submit a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) in accordance with Policy BE08 Sustainable Drainage, commensurate with the scale of the flood risk and recognising all likely sources of flooding - surface water, ground water and watercourse flood risk. Critical Drainage Area boundaries are provided by Essex County Council and should be considered.

8.57 The Brentwood Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2018) maps flood risk zones in the borough, with surface water flooding shown most notably on the A12 north west of Brentwood and on roads around Ingatestone. Incidences of fluvial (river) flooding are recorded along the eastern boundary of the River Wid from Stondon Hall Brook, and the River Roding to the north of the borough. Areas at risk of fluvial flooding are mainly rural and include low lying areas south of the A127 west and east of West Horndon.

8.58 Major applications include a written drainage strategy that addresses the impact that new development will have on surface water flood risk and surface water quality and consider surface water risks to the site and downstream of the development. The strategy will need to demonstrate that these risks will be mitigated via the use of SuDS in line with national and local policy.

(1) 8.59 The Surface Water Management Plan for Brentwood Borough (201) used historical flood data from the flood risk assessment to determine the overall surface water flooding hotspots and then further modelling was carried out to understand the flooding mechanism and risks in more detail. The models were run with 30, 100 and 200 year rainfall events of various durations and the effects of climate change were investigated using the 100 year event. This identified a number of key areas as having significant flood risk which might benefit from mitigation options. Potential mitigation measures have been discussed and indicative costings provided.

8.60 The sequential test applies a hierarchical approach to avoiding and managing flood risk. In the first instance, this aims to locate development in a way that avoids flood risk to people and property, and manage any residual risk, taking account of the impacts of climate change.

8.61 Where a site-specific Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) is required, this should be considered by and approved by the Environment Agency in line with criteria set by national policy and guidance. Development should be guided towards areas of lower flood risk through application of the sequential test and where applicable, an exception test will be required. The assessment will show the risk to the site in greater detail and advise on mitigation measures necessary.

8.62 The Brentwood Water Cycle Study (2018) identifies areas where there may be limitations to the waste water infrastructure and therefore where applicants need to carry out appropriate appraisals to assess whether the proposed development will lead to overloading of existing waste water infrastructure.

8.63 Developers are encouraged to refer to the Environment Agency's Flood Risk Standing Advice for planning applicants; early pre-application discussion with Brentwood Borough Council, Essex County Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority, and Environment Agency, is advised.

8.64 In line with the Local Plan spatial strategy, the Council wishes to ensure that sustainable development is achieved primarily through the regeneration and the redevelopment of previously developed sites. When considering the development of such sites, the Council will consider the potential risk of pollution arising from contamination and the impact on human health, property, biodiversity and the wider environment. However, contamination is not restricted to previously developed land but also occurs on greenfield sites and can arise from natural sources as well as from human activities.

POLICY NE07: Contaminated Land and Hazardous Substances

A. Development proposals involving the use, movement or storage of hazardous substances will only be permitted within employment areas and planning permission will only be granted for development on, or near to land which is suspected to be contaminated, where the Council is satisfied that:

  1. there will be no threat to the health or safety of future users or occupiers of the site or neighbouring land;
  2. there will be no adverse impact on the environment and quality of local groundwater or quality of surface water; and
  3. there would be no unacceptable adverse impacts on property.

B. The Council will require applicants proposing development on or near known or potentially contaminated land to submit a detailed site characterisation and tiered risk assessment and to identify any remedial measures that need to be carried out (including remedial treatment and monitoring arrangements), provided in a detailed Remediation Scheme. Evidence of remediation should be to the satisfaction of the relevant statutory regulators.

C. Planning permission will not be permitted for development on sites that lie near or adjacent to a hazardous substance site or notifiable installation, if the safety of the future occupiers of the development could be adversely affected by the normal permitted operations of the existing uses.

8.65 Where sites are known to be contaminated, or where contamination is subsequently discovered, the Council will require any planning application to be accompanied by a detailed report appraising the levels and extent of contamination together with measures that will remediate the contamination.

8.66 The adverse impact on the environment and quality of local groundwater or surface water should consider standards outlined in the ECC SuDS Design Guide (2016).

8.67 Where insufficient information is submitted with a planning application for a contaminated, potentially contaminated or suspected contaminated site, the Council will take a precautionary approach when making a decision.

8.68 In the context of development management, the Essex Contaminated Land Consortium's Land Affected by Contamination - Technical Guidance for Applicants and Developers (2014), provides detailed information on how to deal with land contamination. This provides guidance on how planning conditions may be used to secure suitable remediation when dealing with planning applications where contaminated land is identified.

8.69 The Planning (Hazardous Substances) Act 1990 aims to prevent major accidents and limit the consequences of such accidents. In considering any planning applications for development which may involve hazardous substances, the Council will need to be completely satisfied that the proposal will not constitute a hazard to existing communities or the local environment. Similarly, existing consents will be an important consideration in the determination of sensitive uses such as housing. In appropriate cases, the Council will therefore consult and liaise with the Health and Safety Executive to minimise potential risks.

8.70 Hazardous substances are defined by the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 1992. The Council is required to ensure that land use policies maintain and secure appropriate distances between establishments where hazardous substances are present, and residential areas, areas of public use and areas of national sensitivity or interest. The Council considers that it would be inappropriate to locate new development on or near to establishments where hazardous substances are present where this would harm public safety.

8.71 Similarly, it would be inappropriate to grant planning permission for development proposals to expand existing sites handling or processing hazardous substances where this would harm public safety. Should a developer have reason to believe a development site is contaminated, they must consult the Council as early as possible before an application is submitted.

8.72 Certain sites and pipelines are designated as notifiable installations by virtue of the quantities of hazardous substance stored or used. Where development is proposed within the consultation distance of notifiable installations, the Council is required to consult the Health and Safety Executive on the suitability of that development in relation to the risks that the notifiable installation might pose to the surrounding population.

(1) POLICY NE08: Floodlighting and Illumination

A. Development proposals involving floodlighting or any other means of illumination (other than advertisements) will only be permitted where the scheme:

  1. is appropriate for the intended use and has been appropriately designed to limit inappropriate light direction and intensity;
  2. is energy efficient;
  3. provides the minimum level of light necessary to achieve its purpose;
  4. uses an appropriate light spectrum and specification that will not be harmful to nocturnal wildlife or human health;
  5. minimises losses to the night sky and does not give rise to any increase in sky glow; and
  6. ensures the appearance of the installation when unlit is acceptable, provides adequate protection from glare and light spill particularly in sensitive locations, such as residential areas, sites of nature conservation interest, and have no adverse effect on amenity, highway safety, landscape or historic character.

B. Applicants will need to submit a full lighting strategy, proportionate to their application, specifying details of lights, their power and type, overall level and distribution of illumination and times of operation. Conditions may be imposed to restrict lighting levels and hours of use or require measures to be taken to minimise adverse effects.

8.73 External lighting can contribute to a healthy, safe environment, enhance the appearance of buildings and extend hours of operation of some activities such as sports; insensitive or excessive illumination can, however, have a harmful impact on the local area and on the enjoyment of the night sky, particularly in open countryside. Excessive lighting can be detrimental to residential amenity, health and, in some circumstances, can be a statutory nuisance. Light pollution represents a wasteful use of energy, contrary to the aims of sustainable development.

8.74 Whilst local residents acknowledge that street lighting for safety reasons is important (Brentwood Strategic Growth Options, 2015), they place a high value on being able to see the night sky and avoid unnecessary lighting (Brentwood Neighbourhood Consultation, 2011). Proposals for lighting or floodlighting of buildings, sport, leisure or other facilities should take into account the effect of light and lighting columns on the character and amenity of the surrounding area.

8.75 Applicants should also consider the effect of lighting in terms of sky glow, glare and light trespass, effect on wildlife, and any potential disturbance arising from the associated use. Proposals should be unobtrusive in terms of the light source and distribution of light, the aura created by the overall illumination and appearance of any structures upon which lights are mounted.

8.76 Where appropriate, the Council will control the location, form, timing and level of all external lighting and illumination.

8.77 Applicants should refer to the Institute of Lighting Engineers' guidance when considering the development and installation of lighting schemes. The Council will require a lighting strategy to accompany all full planning applications.

8.78 Lighting installations on listed buildings that materially affect their character, or illumination of some types of outdoor advertisements, will also require consent.

(37) Green Belt and Rural Development

Green Belt Local Context

8.79 Brentwood Borough Council comprises a main urban area with villages dispersed north and south of the main town. All built-up areas are entirely within the London Metropolitan Green Belt. Brentwood is circa 15,312 ha in area, of which 13,700 ha of land is currently designated as Green Belt (over 89% of the borough). Brentwood currently makes up approximately 2.83% of the overall London Metropolitan Green Belt area. This makes Brentwood a borough with the sixth highest Green Belt area in England. This significantly limits land available for development within the borough and has created the sharp contrast between urban and rural areas with little or no urban fringe.

(1) 8.80 London Metropolitan Green Belt was established by the Town and Country Planning Act 1974 to control the outward spread of London into surrounding counties such as Essex, to ensure the land it kept permanently open. This designation has provided an important protection to the borough's countryside. The Council strongly supports the continued preservation of the Metropolitan Green Belt, as the rural countryside setting is central to the borough's character, which has remained largely unspoilt.

(2) 8.81 Given Brentwood's proximity to London and the road network, there is huge demand and pressure for development. The Council has had to make some difficult, but informed decisions around the alternation of the Green Belt boundary, in line with national planning policy.

(1) 8.82 National policy is clear that, once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation of updating of development plans. Paragraph 136 of the NPPF (2018) states that strategic policies should establish the need for any changes to Green Belt boundaries, having regard to their intended permanence in the long term, so they can endure beyond the Plan period. Where a need for changes to Green Belt boundaries has been established through strategic policies, detailed amendments to those boundaries may be made through non-strategic policies, including neighbourhood plans.

(1) 8.83 The Sustainability Appraisal has examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting the borough's identified need for development and has concluded that the chosen site allocations are the least impactful and promote sustainable patterns of development.

(3) 8.84 Therefore, the borough's growth strategy has carefully selected sites and have prioratised: brownfield and previously development land, locations which are sustainable and do not result in the detrimental impact on important environmental designations, areas where the purposes of the Green Belt can still be demonstrated as being intact thereby maintaining the essential characteristics of 'openness'. These exceptional circumstances have resulted in a 1% release of land from the Green Belt and have defined the need for Green Belt boundary changes in Policy SP02 Managing Growth and depicted in Figure 3.2 Growth Areas. This release has had to be carefully balanced to ensure sustainable development can be achieved, and that the longer-term purpose, integrity and benefit of the Green Belt remains intact.

(4) Purpose of the Green Belt

(17) 8.85 The National Planning Policy Framework sets out the five main purposes of the Green Belt:

  1. to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  2. to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  3. to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  4. to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  5. to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Encouraging the Beneficial Use of Green Belt

8.86 The NPPF (2018, paragraph 141) promotes the beneficial use of the Green Belt. It states that once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance their beneficial use, such as looking for opportunities to provide access, to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation, to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity, or to improve damaged and derelict land. In Brentwood, there are many areas of the Green Belt which also perform other key environmental and recreational functions that must also be maintained in accordance with the relevant policies. For example, there are large areas of woodlands, golf courses, playing pitches, parks, extensive areas important for nature conservation including Hutton, Weald and Thorndon Country Parks, three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and 147 Local Wildlife Sites. There is also an extensive network of public rights of way providing public access to open countryside. Enhancement of these features is welcomed to maintain the beneficial use of the Green Belt.

(1) 8.87 Furthermore, the NPPF states that any development proposals within Community Forests in the Green Belt should be subject to the normal policies for controlling development in Green Belts. The Thames Chase Community Forest reaches across much of the south western area of the borough. The Thames Chase Community Forest offers a valuable opportunity for improving the environment by upgrading the landscape and providing for recreation and wildlife and this will be supported in line with national policy and guidance. The Council will encourage the beneficial use of the Green Belt, through opportunities to improve access, outdoor sport and recreation; retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or improve damaged and derelict land.

Proposals Affecting the Green Belt

8.88 In certain circumstances, development in the Green Belt will be deemed necessary to support rural economies, to ensure the sustainability of villages, as well as to allow for necessary upgrade of existing buildings and structures. Such development will be considered carefully in accordance with the provisions of the NPPF ensuring forms of development are not inappropriate in the Green Belt and to ensure that there will be no detrimental impact to the openness of the Green Belt. Paragraph 145 and 146 of the NPPF state when such exceptions might apply. Notwithstanding these exceptions, additional considerations of impact will be applied, in accordance with Policies.

8.89 It should be noted that some villages are deemed to be in the Green Belt, such as Fyerning, Great Warley, South Weald. Planning applications affecting these villages will be assessed in accordance with the Green Belt policies in the first instance; limited infilling in villages in the Green Belt may be permitted and accepted as appropriate, subject to ensuring no detrimental harm to the Green Belt, in line with policies NE9, NE10, NE11, NE12, NE14, NE15.

(10) 8.90 The following settlements are excluded from the Green Belt: Blackmore, Brentwood, Doddinghurst, Herongate, Hook End, Hutton, Hutton Mount, Ingatestone, Ingrave, Kelvedon Hatch, Mountnessing, Pilgrims Hatch, Shenfield, Stondon Massey, West Horndon and Wyatts Green.

Development in the Green Belt

8.91 Although Green Belt is not an environmental designation, it has enabled the preservation of the borough's countryside and is a key reason why the character of the borough has been retained over time. The character of villages set amongst a high-quality countryside is intrinsically linked to Green Belt designation.

8.92 The (London) Metropolitan Green Belt was introduced as part of the Town and Country Planning Act in 1947 to check the urban sprawl of London into surrounding counties, such as Essex. National policy sets out the key functions of Green Belt, which are reflected in the Council's Local Plan policies.

(6) POLICY NE9: Green Belt

A. The Metropolitan Green Belt within Brentwood Borough (as defined in the Brentwood Policies Map) will be preserved from inappropriate development so that it continues to maintain its openness and serve its key functions.

B. All development proposals within the Green Belt will be considered in accordance with the provisions of the NPPF; development within the Green Belt will only be permitted if it maintains the Green Belt's openness and does not conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt or harm its visual amenities. Planning applications will not be supported, and will be refused if they:

  1. are deemed to impact the five purposes of the Green Belt;
  2. do not contribute to the beneficial use of the Green Belt;
  3. are not considered appropriate development; and
  4. other material considerations apply.

C. Consideration will be given to Gypsy and Traveller allocations within the Green Belt as long as it meets the requirements set out in Policy HP08 Regularising Suitable Existing Traveller Sites.

D. Consideration will also be given to planning applications related to not inappropriate sports and recreational facilities provided they meet the following criteria:

  1. the openness of the Green Belt is not compromised;
  2. in the situation for parking facilities, where appropriate, permeable surface should be considered to avoid surface water flooding;
  3. where the relocation and/or replacement of a sport and/or recreational building is being proposed, the building footprint is to be no larger than the existing footprint; and
  4. the proposal adheres to the policy requirements as set out in BE41 Open Space, Sport and Recreational Facilities.

E. Proposals related to sustainable energy technologies will be supported as long as it adheres to the requirements set out in this policy, Policy BE03 Carbon Reduction, Renewable Energy and Water Efficiency and Policy BE04 Establishing Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Infrastructure Network.

8.93 Green Belt is a policy designation which keeps land permanently open to prevent urban sprawl. The historical development of Brentwood has led to the current central urban areas of Brentwood and Shenfield separated by green wedges of Green Belt. The majority (89%) of the borough lies within the Green Belt and comprises a mix of villages, residential properties and agricultural land. This significantly limits land available for development within the borough and has created the sharp contrast between urban and rural areas with little or no urban fringe.

8.94 In order for Brentwood Borough to grow economically and to provide adequate housing for its population, land must be made available for such growth. Failure to do so might undermine the future prosperity of the borough. The proposed decamping of various existing employment sites onto a new strategic employment location at Junction 29 of the M25 releases further locations for sustainable housing development on brownfield sites. These locations have the ability of immediate access to existing communities and infrastructure.

8.95 To ensure the Metropolitan Green Belt continues to serve its key functions within Brentwood Borough, it will be protected from inappropriate development. Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved, except in very special circumstances. When considering any planning application, substantial weight will be given to any harm to the Green Belt. 'Very special circumstances' is where the potential harm to the Green Belt, by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

8.96 Notwithstanding the above, further development within the Green Belt will need to meet the requirements of Green Belt policy in the NPPF, be in accordance with other policies in this Plan, not harm its visual amenities, not compromise the openness of the Green Belt, nor increase the risk of urban sprawl.

8.97 Temporary and permanent traveller sites are inappropriate development in the Green Belt. However, certain existing sites are proposed to provide permanent provision, as set out in Policy HP08 Regularising Suitable Existing Traveller Sites.

(3) POLICY NE10: New Development, Extension And Replacement Of Buildings In the Green Belt

A. Within the defined Green Belt, the construction of new buildings or structures is considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:

  1. building for agriculture and forestry;
  2. new buildings or extension for education and community uses which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
  3. provision of not inappropriate facilities, including outdoor sport, outdoor recreation, cemeteries, burial grounds, and allotments, as long as development preserves the openness of the Green Belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it, and the proposal adheres to Policy NE09 Green Belt and Policy BE23 Open Space, Sport and Recreational Facilities;
  4. the extension or alteration of a building, provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building; in case of a dwelling extension, the following conditions must also be met:
    1. the existing dwelling is lawful, permanent, designed and originally constructed for residential use;
    2. a substantial identifiable part of the original dwelling remains in place;
    3. the design of the extension is appropriate to the host building and its setting and does not harm the openness or function of the Green Belt;
    4. applications to extend domestic curtilage into the Green Belt will not be permitted;
    5. extension of a dwelling resulting from the conversion of a rural building will not be permitted, notwithstanding permitted development rights;
    6. in addition to all the criteria above, proposals to extend dwellings within the Green Belt but outside established areas in the Green Belt as identified in Policy NE11, the total size of the dwelling as extended (including conservatories) does not exceed the original habitable floor space by more than 30%; where appropriate, a condition will be imposed to prevent this habitable floorspace limitation from being exceeded through the implementation of permitted development right;
  5. the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces and the following conditions are met:
    1. the proposal would not lead to an expansion or intensification of the activity on the site;
    2. any replacement dwelling will be expected to be located in the position of the existing dwelling, except where the local planning authority considers an alternative sitting to be more appropriate in Green Belt or amenity terms;
    3. where the existing dwelling is a bungalow, it should be replaced by a bungalow;
    4. extensions to replacement dwellings will only be permitted where the habitable floorspace of the replacement dwelling and the total habitable floorspace of any extensions permitted would not be greater than 30% above the original habitable floor area of the previous dwelling which had been replaced;
    1. in addition to all the criteria above, the replacement or substantial rebuilding of permanently occupied dwellings within the Green Belt but outside established areas in the Green Belt as identified in Policy NE11 will only be allowed subject to the following criteria:

(i) where the existing dwelling has not been previously extended or where it has been extended by less than 30% above the original habitable floor space: the floor space of the replacement dwelling will be no larger than 30% above the original habitable floor space; or

(ii) where the existing dwelling has been extended by more than 30% above the original habitable floor space: the replacement habitable floor space of the replacement dwelling will be no larger than the existing habitable floor space;

(iii) where appropriate, a condition will be imposed removing permitted development rights to extend the building, use the roof space for habitable purposes and erect walls, fences or further out-buildings, in order to prevent this habitable floorspace limitation from being exceeded;

(iv) the visual mass of the replacement dwelling should be no greater than that of the existing dwelling;

  1. limited infilling in villages and limited affordable housing for local community needs in accordance with other policies set out in this Plan;
  2. limited infilling, or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development; and
  3. local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location and would preserve the openness of the Green Belt and not conflict with its purposes.

B. The Council will encourage the beneficial use of the Green Belt, through opportunities to improve access, outdoor sport and recreation; retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or improve damaged and derelict land.

C. The following settlements are excluded from the Green Belt as identified on the Brentwood Policies Map: Blackmore, Brentwood, Doddinghurst, Herongate, Hook End, Hutton, Hutton Mount, Ingatestone, Ingrave, Kelvedon Hatch, Mountnessing, Pilgrims Hatch, Shenfield, Stondon Massey, West Horndon and Wyatts Green.

D. Microgeneration integral to individual new development are encouraged and may be acceptable under permitted development. Where permitted development does not apply, the renewable energy installations should not impact on the openness, function and permanence of the Green Belt or conflict with the purpose of the land within it. Proposals for larger scale renewable energy projects in the Green Belt will need to demonstrate very special circumstances.

E. This policy is not intended to relate to uses created via the re-use of rural buildings.

(1) 8.98 National policy and guidance regard the construction of new buildings or structures as inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Paragraphs 145 and 146 of the NPPF outline when exceptions might apply, these include:

  1. agriculture and forestry buildings;
  2. new buildings or extension for education and community uses which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;
  3. the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of land or a change of use) for outdoor sport outdoor recreation and cemeteries as long as these preserve the openness of the Green Belt;
  4. extension or alteration of a building, provided it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;
  5. the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces and the re-use of buildings, provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction;
  6. limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for the local community;
  7. the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land) which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development, or not cause substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt.
  8. local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location; and
  9. the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction.

(1) 8.99 The Council supports, in principle, the provision of new buildings for community or educational uses that can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location. This is likely to be due to the location of the community or facility in which it serves. These types of buildings will only be permitted where they are required to serve the immediate local community and are not inappropriate; it is not intended for 'regional centre' type facilities to be located in the Green Belt.

8.100 Microgeneration integral to individual new development are encouraged and may be acceptable under permitted development. Where not permitted development, the renewable energy installations should not impact on the openness, function and permanence of the Green Belt or conflict with the purpose of the land within it. Elements of many proposals for larger scale renewable energy projects in the Green Belt will comprise inappropriate development (NPPF, paragraph 147); in such cases, only in very special circumstances will they be permitted. Very special circumstances in this context may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources.

Dwelling Extensions

(16) 8.101 Existing dwellings in the Green Belt benefit from the same permitted development rights as dwellings elsewhere (provided permitted development rights have not been removed). Extensions to properties can, however, lead to urbanisation, increases in population and activity in the Green Belt, and a loss of small dwellings. This policy therefore seeks to minimise harm caused to the Green Belt that might otherwise result from disproportionate additions and by resisting the loss of smaller dwellings, help maintain a choice of dwelling sizes in the borough.

8.102 The policy reference to 'original' means the dwelling as existing on 1 July 1948 even if the original dwelling has since been replaced. Where no dwelling existed on the date, then 'original' means the dwelling as first built. Extensions will only be allowed under the policy where the dwelling proposed to be extended remains intact on site. For the purposes of calculating floor space, gross internal measurements are used in all cases. This means measuring from the inside of external walls and includes the area of internal partitions, but excludes any stairwell area above ground floor.

8.103 Extension of domestic curtilages into the Green Belt leads to further urbanisation though construction of hardstandings, walls, sheds, etc. as well as increased activity generally, and change from rural to suburban/urban character is contrary to the aims of the Green Belt.

Replacement Dwellings

8.104 Where new dwellings are permitted in the Green Belt, the Council will consider removing permitted development rights for extensions and outbuildings to prevent future additions where these cumulatively would add to the impact of the development on the Green Belt. Proposals to extend or erect outbuildings to such dwellings will not be permitted.

8.105 Criteria for replacement dwellings and substantial rebuilds set out in the policy are necessary to limit the amount of urbanisation that takes place in the Green Belt through increased occupancy potential and the inevitable visual impact resulting from redevelopment.

8.106 The floorspace of replacement dwellings in the Green Belt may be up to 30% greater than the original habitable floorspace. Subsequent further extensions to a replacement dwelling will only be allowed where this additional 30% was not provided to the full at the time the replacement dwelling was built. This allowance provides the opportunity to design a building that meets the aspirations for more accommodation while ensuring the overall visual mass is no greater than that of the original dwelling. The presumption that bungalows will be replaced by bungalows should help minimise the impact on the Green Belt and assist in the provision of accessible property in the borough.

8.107 In the interests of amenity, certain permitted development rights will, where appropriate, be removed by a condition attached to the permission. These might cover the erection of walls/fences and outbuildings. When a property is rebuilt, the investment involved is very likely to spread into the renewal of boundary treatment and the provision of garages or other measures which could have a strongly urbanising effect if not controlled.

8.108 In order to retain the integrity of the criteria applied to the re-use of rural buildings, the replacement of a dwelling formed under Policy NE15 Re-use and Residential Conversions of Rural Buildings will not be permitted.

(1) POLICY NE11: Established Areas of Development And Structures In The Green Belt

A. Within established areas of frontage ribbon development included within the Green Belt listed below, planning permission for change of use to residential, new residential development on genuine infill plots, replacement of existing dwellings, or extensions to existing dwellings will be allowed subject to criteria set down in other policies in this Plan being satisfied. Relevant frontages are:

  1. 39-47, 51-109 Coxtie Green Road;
  2. 1-19 Bellhouse Lane;
  3. Between Coppersfield and Greenoaks, Doddinghurst Road (Parkwood);
  4. 1-13 (excluding 2), 21-56 (excluding 24, 26) Nags Head Lane;
  5. the Thorns/ the Briars, Ongar Road;
  6. 54-88 Billericay Road; and
  7. 554-664 Rayleigh Road.

B. New buildings and extension for education and community uses which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location should refer to Policy NE10 New Development, Extension and Replacement of Buildings in the Green Belt.

8.109 Within the Green Belt there are many established clusters of dwellings. The locations listed in this policy reflect planning consents that have occurred since the 1976 review of Green Belt boundary and the policy does not seek to create exceptions to the general Green Belt protection policy.

8.110 Continuing pressure exists for ribbon 'infill' development to take place between existing dwellings. If this pressure were acceded to, the character of the Green Belt within and around these areas would be irrevocably damaged over time and would result in the coalescence of villages and towns. The Council will, therefore, continue to resist strongly pressure to allow new development in those established clusters. However, there are a very few limited, well defined areas within the Green Belt where tight knit frontage ribbon development already exists which is sufficiently urban in character to allow some relaxation of Green Belt policy. Outside these defined areas, residential development will be permitted only in accordance with other policies in this Plan.

(4) POLICY NE12: Previously Developed Land In Green Belt

A. Proposals for redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield) within the Green Belt will be permitted where redevelopment:

  1. contributes towards local housing needs or provides new jobs;
  2. would not have significantly greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt;
  3. improves the setting of the Green Belt through more appropriate landscaping;
  4. provides community benefits to both the new and existing local community;
  5. supplies or improves travel links to nearby existing communities, such as villages; and
  6. contributes to the borough's sustainable development principles as set out in other policies in the Plan.

B. The Council will assess the proposed development based on the following:

  1. the size, scale, massing and spread of new development compared to the existing;
  2. the visual impact of the development compared to the existing;
  3. the activities / use of the new development compared to the existing; and
  4. whether the location of the site is sustainable and appropriate to the type of development proposed.

8.111 This policy is in place to recognise the potential opportunity provided by previously developed sites in the Green Belt to meet local needs. Such sites will be considered appropriate for redevelopment where they contain permanent buildings and are redundant or in continuing use, subject to meeting the policy criteria.

8.112 Previously developed sites in Green Belt provide locations to meet local housing needs within the existing development context of the borough. However, such sites are usually divorced from urban settlements, often remote, and do not provide for more than ten new homes on site. For these reasons, sites have not been identified and allocated for development. Although such sites do not meet the proposed spatial strategy for focusing new development in sustainable locations, they can allow for limited development appropriate for local surroundings and as part of the purpose for including land within Green Belt.

8.113 Such sites can contribute to local need, particularly in the borough's rural areas, supporting villages by contributing to local services and providing new homes to allow for improved choices. It may also be appropriate for redevelopment to provide for other types of need, such as new jobs or community uses as outlined within the NPPF.

(123) POLICY NE13: Site Allocations In the Green Belt

A. Sites allocated to meet housing needs in the Green Belt will be expected to provide significant community benefits, both for surrounding existing communities and those moving into new homes on site.

B. These sites will be de-allocated from the Green Belt to allow development to take place and provide new defensible boundaries to protect the open countryside for future generations. Site boundaries to form the new Green Belt boundaries are set out on relevant sites in Appendix 2.

(1) 8.114 This policy is in place to ensure the cost of losing some Green Belt is repaid through significant benefits to new and existing communities. This will capture the uplift in land value for local benefit. These benefits are likely to be for different needs depending on the area, but could involve new community facilities, open space for public use, play areas, and investment in existing facilities. In addition, development will need to contribute to local education and healthcare needs in partnership with relevant providers/authorities.

8.115 New housing development in these locations will provide for a range of needs as advised by evidence, such as the Council's Strategic Housing Market Assessment, and local housing strategy. This could be to provide new starter homes, medium and larger family homes, and smaller units, for example, to allow older people to have a realistic option to downsize and free up larger homes for families. Such new homes will be fit for purpose to meet specific needs, meaning not all smaller units will be flats.

8.116 With this in mind, it will also be necessary to ensure the most efficient use of land is made in order to respond to the borough's higher housing need and limited capacity. Balancing development needs with borough character in line with strategic objectives and the spatial strategy will need to be considered.

(1) 8.117 This policy also sets out the principles of removing allocated Green Belt development sites from the Green Belt. This de-allocation will allow for planning applications to be considered within the context of policies within this Plan as well as national policy and guidance.

Agricultural Workers Dwellings

8.118 The Council will protect the borough's rural areas from development that would adversely affect its landscape character, appearance, and function, by avoiding non-essential residential development. The Council also recognises that the maintenance of land in agricultural use helps the preservation of the rural area. However, to enhance and maintain the vitality of rural communities, exceptions may be made for the conversion of existing buildings, one-for-one replacement of existing dwellings; or where it is proven, a new dwelling to support an agricultural worker's employment requirements to live in close proximity to their place of work.

POLICY NE14: Agricultural Workers Dwellings

New Dwellings

A. Planning permission will only be granted for a new agricultural, horticultural, forestry worker's dwelling where:

  1. evidence has been submitted to the satisfaction of Brentwood Borough Council that there is a viable agricultural, horticultural or forestry business need for a permanent dwelling in that location;
  2. there are no suitable alternative dwellings available or could be made available in the locality to meet the needs of the agricultural holding;
  3. there is a long-term need for agricultural worker dwellings;
  4. the size and accommodation levels to be included in the proposed dwelling is commensurate with the needs of the holding; and
  5. the development is in all other respects acceptable against other relevant policies in the plan and the requirements as set out in the NPPF and NPPG.

B. Conditions will be attached to any permission limiting the occupancy to that required for the holding concerned or other agricultural use nearby.

Removal of Occupancy Conditions on Existing Dwellings

C. Planning permission will be granted for the removal of a restrictive agricultural worker occupancy concerned or other agricultural use nearby where it can be evidenced that there is no long-term need for an agricultural worker's dwelling in the locality.

8.119 It is recognised that in some limited circumstances there may be a need generated for new dwellings to solely serve workers engaged in agriculture, forestry and other rural activities. The new dwellings section of this policy provides criteria whereby proposals for new agricultural, horticultural or forestry workers dwellings will be assessed.

8.120 In addition, changes in the scale and character of agricultural and forestry activities could affect the longer-term requirements for dwellings in the rural area where these were made subject to an agricultural horticultural or forestry worker occupancy condition at the time planning permission was granted. In such cases, it is recognised that it would fulfil no purpose to keep such dwellings vacant, or that existing occupiers should be obliged to remain in occupation simply by virtue of a planning condition that has outlived its usefulness. Nevertheless, the Council will expect applications for the removal of an occupancy condition to demonstrate convincingly there is no long-term need for an agricultural dwelling in the locality.

8.121 Moreover, the Council will bear in mind that such dwellings could well be used by agricultural, horticultural and forestry workers seeking accommodation within the wider surrounding area. In this regard, the Council will need to be assured that the availability of a dwelling tied to an occupancy condition has been effectively marketed to likely interested parties in the area concerned, and that no real interest has been shown regarding purchase or occupation of the dwelling by the local agricultural community.

8.122 As part of the evidence required, the applicant will be expected to provide details of their instructions to estate agents, and the response to that advertising, that:

  1. the property has been on the market for rent or sale for at least two years and advertised continuously in that period at a price that reflects the occupancy condition. The advertising should be within both local newspapers and at least two national farmer magazines e.g. Farmer's Weekly; and
  2. the property has been offered both for sale and to rent on the same basis as above to all farmers and horticulturists in the locality (i.e. having holdings within a 3.2 km (two mile) radius of the dwelling).

8.123In addition, the policy will be applied to applications for the removal of occupancy conditions from dwellings associated with stables or other rural dwellings which are subject to occupancy conditions.

Re-use and Residential Conversion of Rural Buildings

8.124 Notwithstanding prior approval whereby permitted development rights for the change of use of agricultural buildings under 500 sqm are permitted to change to a flexible commercial use, subject to meeting certain criteria; the re-use, and adaptation of existing rural buildings can play an important role in meeting the needs of rural areas for employment, tourism, leisure and/ or community uses. In addition, the re-use of rural buildings for commercial development can support the rural economy by promoting the sustainable growth and expansion of businesses through conversion of existing buildings and diversification of agricultural and other land-based rural businesses. Tourism could be a vital and sustainable source of business for the rural economy and provides employment for local people, and therefore, contributing to the objective of sustaining vital rural communities. Some buildings could be suitable for businesses connected with tourism, while community uses can make a valuable contribution to local communities in appropriate locations.

(1) POLICY NE15: Re-Use And Residential Conversion Of Rural Buildings

A. The Council will support the re-use, conversion or adaptation of rural buildings for other employment generating uses, tourism, leisure, community or residential uses, provided the development proposal meets all the following criteria:

  1. it does not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within the Green Belt than the original or current lawful use;
  2. the new use should not require elements which might conflict with the openness and function of the Green Belt;
  3. the applicant can demonstrate that the building is of permanent and substantial construction;
  4. the conversion of the building would not result in a major or complete reconstruction; and
  5. the proposed re-use should not have an unacceptable detrimental impact on the fabric and character of the building due to unsympathetic changes to or the introduction of features such as windows, door openings and chimneys.

B. In the case of traditional rural buildings, the proposed use must be compatible with the historic character and significance, and structural integrity of the building. A historic building assessment of the structures may be required as part of the planning application with the potential for a full historic record to be completed as a condition of the application prior to conversion.

C. Where appropriate, conditions will be imposed removing permitted development rights to extend the property, alter the external appearance, construct buildings or structures (including walls/fences) within the curtilage, and change the use.

D. Permission will not be granted for the re-use of an agricultural building erected under class A of Part 6 of Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order as amended within 10 years of its substantial completion.

8.125 The Council is committed to supporting a prosperous rural economy and this approach is in line with national policy. This policy should be read in conjunction with Policy PC06 Supporting the Rural Economy.

8.126 In the case of traditional rural buildings, the proposed use must secure its historic fabric and integrity; and in the case of listed buildings, development will need to comply with Policy HP20 Listed Buildings. It is essential to ensure that a residentially converted rural building does not have the appearance of a new dwelling or set a precedent for new residential development in the Green Belt. The building must be capable of conversion without the creation of a residential curtilage having a harmful effect on the building and the surrounding countryside due to the unacceptable intrusiveness of increased activity and domestic additions such as garaging, sheds, clothes lines, play equipment, walls and fences, patios and hardstandings.

8.127 Residential re-use is a concern due to; the large number of properties involved, the loss of rural business premises for which there may be a need in future and which may be uneconomic or otherwise hard to replace, the impact on the rural character of the Green Belt, and the need to facilitate new housing within or well connected to existing settlements. The Council will generally apply a presumption in favour of employment generating uses. Residential conversions will only be permitted where every reasonable effort has been made to secure a suitable business use, or the residential use is a subordinate part of a business re-use, or the use is required for an agricultural or forestry worker. Residential conversions may be appropriate in certain circumstances including where they are adjacent to, or within, existing groups of buildings. A financial contribution will be sought by the Council towards the provision of affordable housing elsewhere within the respective Parish.

[1] HM Government (2018) A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan

[2] The Thames Chase Trust (2016) The Thames Chase Plan. Available at: http://www.thameschase.org.uk/uploads/TC_Plan_Summary.pdf

[4] Thames Chase Trust (2014), The Thames Chase Plan and Thames Chase Trust (2016), Land of the Fanns Partnership

[5] Wood (2018) Brentwood Strategic Flood Risk Assessment

[6] Wood (2018) Brentwood Water Cycle Study

[7] Essex County Council (2015) Brentwood Surface Water Management Plan

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