Policy ENV7: Green and Blue Infrastructure

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy ENV7:  Green and Blue Infrastructure

Development proposals will only be permitted provided that:

  1. It can be demonstrated by an assessment appropriate to the nature of the proposal (such as the Building with Nature accreditation) that it protects and enhances the integrity, quality, connectivity and multi-functionality of the existing green and blue infrastructure network and individual sites; and
  2. It enhances green and blue infrastructure through provision within the site, and supports the guidance, standards and delivery of the Green Infrastructure Strategy (and any updates); and
  3. Any adverse impacts on the green and blue infrastructure network, as well as identified deficiencies, are fully mitigated through the provision of green, or where appropriate, blue infrastructure on site or, through appropriate off-site compensatory measures within the borough where the needs of new residents can be met without harm to the needs of existing residents; and
  4. Where new green and blue infrastructure is provided within new development, suitable arrangements are in place for its future funding, maintenance, management and delivery alongside the requirements of the proposed development.

The council will support proposals which improve links and remedy identified deficiencies in the green and blue infrastructure network in accordance with the council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy (2018, or any subsequent updates).

The council will seek to protect and enhance the quality and extent of green spaces and public rights of way, including public open space and access to the countryside. Proposals for the redevelopment of green spaces will not be permitted unless it can be clearly demonstrated that:

  1. Replacement areas will be at least equivalent in terms of quality, quantity and accessibility, and there will be no overall negative impact on the provision of green infrastructure; or
  2. A robust assessment clearly demonstrates that the space is surplus to local requirements and will not be needed in the-long term in accordance with the council’s local standards; or
  3. The proposal is for alternative recreational provision which meets evidence of local need in such a way as to outweigh the loss and includes multi-functional space that delivers a range of benefits including connectivity, reduced flood risk and urban cooling.

Development proposals will be permitted where it can be clearly demonstrated that

green infrastructure and where appropriate blue infrastructure can be provided and phased to support the requirements of proposed development and be in accordance with the council’s adopted green space standards. Green space and equipped play will normally be provided on-site, as set out in criterion c).

All proposals for major development will be required to provide a high standard of design for green and blue infrastructure. New developments should also, where relevant, be considered against best practice including the National Design Guide, Building with Nature Standards and the National Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards.

7.48 Green infrastructure is an interconnected network of natural areas and other green open spaces that is integral to the health and quality of life of people in local communities and which supports and enhances natural and ecological processes. Landscape design, biodiversity enhancements, tree considerations and requirements for multi-functional green space on sites are all factors that will form part of the green infrastructure of a site and its surroundings. The council has adopted a Landscape, Biodiversity and Trees SPD which provides further guidance on how green infrastructure, landscape, biodiversity and trees should shape development proposals and be considered through the planning process.
7.49 The Council will expect ‘major’ development proposals to be designed in accordance with the quantity, accessibility and quality standards as set out in the Council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy.  Development proposals should also adhere to other best practice guidance. For example, ‘Building with Nature’ introduces a set of best practice standards for the development of green infrastructure. The standards help to define what good green and blue infrastructure is and can be used as a tool for demonstrating the provision of high quality green and blue infrastructure as part of new development. The National Design Guide (MHCLG, 2019) also provides a useful set of design principles in relation to green infrastructure. Natural England’s National Framework of Green Infrastructure Standards defines what good green infrastructure should incorporate and how it can be used to deliver multiple benefits for people and nature.  The Framework provides advice on green infrastructure tools and mapping, principles and design guidance.  However, in terms of greenspace standards,  the Council’s Green Infrastructure Strategy takes precedence.
7.50 Blue infrastructure can contribute to reductions in surface water runoff, improve urban cooling through evaporation and increase water storage in the environment which can help reduce potential incidents of flash flooding. It can also yield other sustainability benefits similar to green infrastructure such as providing habitat for water related flora and fauna, promoting physical and mental wellbeing and reinforcing the local character of places.
7.51

For the purposes of the Local Plan, ‘multi-functional’ green space can be defined as green space which acts as a focus for the community, contributes to community cohesion and development, landscape conservation, biodiversity conservation, visual amenity and tranquillity, environmental sustainability, active and passive recreation, and the local economy. Examples of multi-functional green space provision can include:

  • Playing fields;
  • Parks and gardens;
  • Areas used for informal recreation;
  • Courtyards and amenity open space in residential developments including incidental areas of green space such as grass verges;
  • Informal provision for children and young people;
  • Allotments and community gardens;
  • Cemeteries and churchyards;
  • Accessible countryside and woodland (e.g. designated under the

Countryside and Rights of Way Act);

  • Public Rights of Way;
  • Local nature reserves;
  • Green corridors, and;
  • River corridors.
7.52 The borough’s GI Strategy identifies existing greenspace assets which collectively form a network connected by footpaths, cycle ways and bridleways and by features which enable the movement of wildlife. The borough already has a significant network of green and blue infrastructure assets, however the extent, type and quality of green and blue infrastructure and its benefits are not evenly distributed and the maximum benefits are not always realised for reasons including accessibility, lack of awareness, poor linkages or inadequate management as identified through assessments in the GI Strategy. The Strategy sets out a framework for the management of the network of spaces and habitats together with focussed improvements in potential Biodiversity Priority Areas (the River Loddon and River Test). The Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre has carried out ecological network mapping for Hampshire representing the hierarchy of international, national and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity plus other priority habitats, and areas identified for habitat restoration and creation. Further opportunities for creating and improving habitats may be identified through the government’s forthcoming Nature Recovery Network and the Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
7.53

The council will work in partnership with the local community, developers, landowners, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and other organisations to provide, protect, maintain and enhance the borough’s network of high quality ‘multi-functional’ green space. Through this overall approach to green and blue infrastructure the borough will aim to:

  • Provide, protect and maintain a range of existing green and blue infrastructure assets, ranging from borough-wide to neighbourhood level provision;
  • Provide opportunities for informal recreation and access to nature within appropriate distance thresholds set out in the council’s standards;
  • Provide high quality safe green routes for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders linking all accessible green spaces;
  • Develop an integrated network comprising green and blue spaces and public rights of way;
  • Support biodiversity conservation through the management of existing accessible natural green space and through the restoration and creation of habitats and their linkages;
  • Contribute to the conservation and enhancement of local distinctiveness, landscape quality and character, visual amenity and the historic environment including archaeological sites;
  • Mitigate and adapt to climate change through natural drainage, flood water storage, carbon capture, and pollution and microclimate control;
  • Contribute to the creation of nutrient neutral developments;
  • Where appropriate, focus GI improvements in identified areas, including the river corridors, East Basingstoke Natural Environment Management Plan area.
7.54 Basingstoke town is generally well provided for in the amount of green space available and most residents in the town have good access to at least one green space. However, many of these areas are of relatively low value and investment is required to improve their multi-functionality. There are, however, inequalities in terms of quantity, quality and accessibility of green spaces across the borough with certain areas having a deficiency of open space. The council recognises the need to address the quantity of open space through provision of new green spaces to meet local need and also to address quality through the enhancement of low quality existing green spaces. The council will, from time to time, identify specific local areas of open space, which are afforded protection by this policy.
7.55 Proposals that would harm the green and blue infrastructure network will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances and any negative impact arising from the development must be wholly mitigated to the satisfaction of the council. In these circumstances the council will require measures including qualitative, quantitative and accessibility improvements which meet the needs of the residents affected by the development as well as mitigating the impact on the overall green space network. Off-site provision as part of mitigation for the loss of green infrastructure will be expected to contain a similar habitat and have at least the same functional value. The council will continue to seek opportunities to support habitat creation, restoration and/or management within the Borough’s Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOAs), Biodiversity Priority Areas (BPAs) and areas mapped as ‘network opportunities’. Further opportunities for creating and improving habitats may be identified through the government’s forthcoming national Nature Recovery Network and the Local Nature Recovery Strategy.
7.56 Where suitable, development proposals will be expected to contribute towards the improvement and enhancement of green and blue infrastructure in accordance with the GI Strategy and associated standards. The council will support opportunities for remedying deficiencies in provision and potential to increase green space provision will be set out in the relevant development brief for the allocated sites. This will ensure that developers can incorporate green and blue infrastructure into development proposals at an early stage. Developers are encouraged to offer green space which has a public value for adoption by the council (along with commuted sum payments) in order to ensure their long term management.
7.57 The GI Strategy also identifies other opportunities for future green and blue infrastructure improvements such as the creation of a country park at Manydown and projects that form part of The East Basingstoke Natural Environment Management Plan (EBNEMP). Manydown Country Park will become a major green infrastructure asset of approximately 100 hectares serving Basingstoke town and the borough as a whole. It will be a multi-functional space for informal recreation, play, nature conservation, education and land management, with ancillary uses including visitor parking and facilities. The EBNEMP is a masterplan that sets out a number of projects that protect and enhance a network of parks and open spaces to the east of Basingstoke including Eastrop Park, WMP, Black Dam Pond, Crabtree, Lime Pits, Basing Common and Millfield.
7.58 The Leisure and Recreation Needs Assessment (LRNA) (and subsequent updates) includes a comprehensive assessment of the quantity, quality and accessibility of the borough’s open spaces. This has been used as a basis for developing locally-derived standards for new provision, in accordance with guidance at a national level. The council’s adopted green space, sport and recreation standards are set out in full in appendix 4. This includes an expected quantity standard which all new developments will normally provide, distance thresholds and minimum size thresholds for different green space types.
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Advice on, and the determination of, relevant planning permissions;
  • Schemes with GI quality standard accreditation such as Building with Nature;
  • The delivery of the objectives and action plans of the relevant council strategies specifically the Green Infrastructure Strategy and the Living Landscapes Strategy/Biodiversity Strategy.
  • Development proposals contributing towards the improvement and enhancement of green and blue infrastructure in accordance with the council’s adopted local standards.
  • Opportunities for remedying deficiencies in provision and potential to increase open space provision will be set out in the relevant masterplan or development brief for the allocated sites in order to ensure that developers can incorporate green and blue infrastructure into development proposals at an early stage;
  • Working in partnership with Natural England, and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Nature Partnership and Catchment Partnerships.

The policy will be monitored against:

  • The gains and losses of different types of green spaces (in ha) resulting from development management decisions via the annual monitoring process.
  • The implementation and delivery of the Green Infrastructure Strategy and its Action Plan.
  • The delivery of provision secured through new development will be actively monitored as appropriate, in line with timescales set out in legal agreements (gains in the amount of open space, amount of developer contributions collected, how monies used off-site etc).

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