Central Lincolnshire Local Plan Review - Proposed Submission Local Plan

Proposed Submission Local Plan

11 Natural Environment

11.0. Green and Blue Infrastructure

11.0.1 Green and blue infrastructure can be defined as a strategically planned and delivered network of multi-functional, green and blue (water) spaces and other natural features, and the connections between them, in both urban and rural areas, which is capable of delivering a range of environmental, economic, health and quality of life benefits for local communities. The green infrastructure network may comprise of spaces in public or private ownership, with or without public access.

11.0.1 The types of green and blue infrastructure assets to be found in Central Lincolnshire are wide ranging and include, but are not limited to:

  • Allotments, community gardens and orchards;
  • Amenity greenspaces - including play areas, urban commons, communal spaces within housing areas, and village greens;
  • Cemeteries, churchyards and disused burial grounds;
  • Green corridors – including rivers and canals, main drains, rail corridors, hedgerows, ditches, cycle routes, pedestrian paths and rights of way;
  • Golf courses
  • Natural and semi-natural greenspaces – including woodland, scrub, grassland, wetlands, open water, bare rock habitats, existing sites of national and local biodiversity importance;
  • Parks and gardens – including urban parks and gardens and country parks;
  • Domestic gardens and street trees;
  • Green roofs and walls;
  • Functional green space, such as SuDS and flood storage areas;
  • Historic environmental assets – including listed buildings, conservation areas, scheduled monuments and historic parks and gardens;
  • Predominantly undeveloped natural floodplains and fens; and
  • Previously developed land that is wildlife rich, such as restored mineral sites and open mosaic habitats.

11.0.3 Well planned, designed and managed green infrastructure has the potential to deliver a wide range of direct and indirect benefits for people and the environment, including:

  • opportunities to mitigate and adapt the natural and built environment to climate change;
  • improving air and water quality;
  • reducing and managing flood risk and drought;
  • improving quality of place;
  • supporting people’s physical and mental health and social wellbeing;
  • encouraging active and more sustainable travel;
  • sustaining economic growth, attracting investment, promoting employment and skills improvement;
  • protecting and enhancing existing habitats and providing opportunities to create a more joined-up and resilient ecological network;
  • providing opportunities for local, sustainable food production; and
  • conserving and enhancing landscape character, local distinctiveness and the setting of heritage assets.

11.0.4 Benefits to people provided by nature have been termed 'ecosystem services'. The extent to which green infrastructure provides these benefits depends on how it is designed and maintained. Individual elements of the green infrastructure network can serve a useful purpose without being connected. However, connectivity between different green infrastructure assets can help maximise the benefits that they generate and reduces fragmentation and severance. For example, well-connected green infrastructure assets create a network that allows and encourages movement by people and wildlife, helping to maximise the benefits and support adaptation and resilient to a changing climate, such as potentially dramatic increases in rainfall.

11.0.5 The overarching aim is to establish a comprehensive, high quality network of green infrastructure throughout Central Lincolnshire. In 2011, a partnership of local organisations produced the Central Lincolnshire Green Infrastructure Study, which sets out a green infrastructure network and strategy for Central Lincolnshire. The strategy defines specific priority areas where targeting investment in green infrastructure is most likely to deliver multiple benefits. Detailed descriptions of each of the priority areas are contained within the Study and are summarised below.

Central Lincolnshire Green and Blue Infrastructure Network Priority Areas

Priority Area

Explanation

Strategic Green Corridors

7 priority landscape-scale areas for strategic GI enhancement, linkage and creation

Strategic Green Access Links

16 priority routes within and connecting the Strategic Green Corridors intended to provide for multi-user, predominantly off road access routes for pedestrians and cyclists. Also offer opportunities as wildlife corridors.

Urban Green Grids

3 priority areas with key opportunities for greening the built environment for Lincoln, Gainsborough and Sleaford.

Green Infrastructure Zones

30 areas with opportunities for targeted green infrastructure improvements in the wider countryside.

11.0.6 The Gainsborough Open Space and Green Infrastructure Strategy (LUC, 2019) describes the current green infrastructure provision across Gainsborough, sets out a vision and core principles that all green infrastructure should follow, and identifies potential projects to deliver improved existing and provide new high quality, multi-functional green spaces and environmental features for Gainsborough. In June 2021, green infrastructure profiles were published for Lincoln and Sleaford, identifying green infrastructure assets within and adjacent to each urban area and opportunities to enhance, link and extend the green infrastructure network.

11.0.7 In 2019, the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership (GLNP) produced a baseline GI Map for Central Lincolnshire. This highlights areas of existing priority habitats, designated sites and other areas of green or blue space and updates the baseline GI maps in the 2011 GI Study.

11.0.8 The Central Lincolnshire green infrastructure network can be viewed on the Central Lincolnshire Interactive Map and within Green Infrastructure Strategies and Green Infrastructure Profile and Opportunity Plans for Lincoln, Gainsborough and Sleaford, available on the Central Lincolnshire website.

11.0.9 Green infrastructure is integral to place-making, significantly contributing towards places where people want to live, work and invest. As Central Lincolnshire continues to grow and develop, the green infrastructure network is likely to come under increasing pressure from new development, particularly within and around the main urban settlements. However, development brings opportunities to enhance the network and deliver new green infrastructure of all types and sizes.

11.0.10 New development should contribute to the extension of the green infrastructure network, helping to address deficiencies in provision and providing good quality connections to the network and throughout the development. Developer contributions will be sought proportionate to the scale of the proposed development to provide, or contribute towards, the cost of providing new or improved existing green infrastructure, where this is required as a consequence of the development, on its own, or as a result of the cumulative impact of a development in the area.

11.0.11 Green infrastructure principles should be considered and incorporated into a scheme from the earliest stages of the design process, at every scale (from a single building to a new settlement), and be capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, health and quality of life benefits for local communities. Developers should appraise the site context for green infrastructure functions and take opportunities to achieve multi-functionality by bringing green infrastructure functions together. Natural England’s Green Infrastructure Framework provides a useful guide for considering green infrastructure.

11.0.12 In developing proposals, the green infrastructure network for Central Lincolnshire should be viewed and considered alongside other relevant policies in this Local Plan to identify opportunities for protecting, enhancing and connecting green infrastructure assets as part of new development.

Policy S59: Green and Blue Infrastructure Network

The Central Lincolnshire Authorities will safeguard green and blue infrastructure in Central Lincolnshire from inappropriate development and work actively with partners to maintain and improve the quantity, quality, accessibility and management of the green infrastructure network.

Proposals that cause loss or harm to the green and blue infrastructure network will not be supported unless the need for and benefits of the development demonstrably outweigh any adverse impacts. Where adverse impacts on green infrastructure are unavoidable, development will only be supported if suitable mitigation measures for the network are provided.

Development proposals should ensure that existing and new green and blue infrastructure is considered and integrated into the scheme design from the outset. Where new green infrastructure is proposed, the design and layout should take opportunities to:

  1. incorporate a range of types and sizes of green and blue spaces, green routes and environmental features that are appropriate to the development and the wider green and blue infrastructure network to maximise the delivery of multi-functionality;
  2. deliver biodiversity net gain and support ecosystem services;
  3. respond to landscape/townscape and historic character;
  4. support climate change adaptation and resilience including through use of appropriate habitats and species; and
  5. encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

Development proposals must protect the linear features of the green and blue infrastructure network that provide connectivity between green infrastructure assets, including public rights of way, bridleways, cycleways and waterways, and take opportunities to improve and expand such features. 

Development will be expected to make a contribution proportionate to their scale towards the establishment, enhancement and on-going management of green and/or blue infrastructure by contributing to the development of the strategic green infrastructure network within Central Lincolnshire, in accordance with the Developer Contributions SPD.

11.1 Biodiversity and Geodiversity

11.1.1 The abundance and distribution of the UK’s species has declined rapidly since the 1970’s[1]. There is now an urgent need to reverse the net loss of biodiversity, as this trend is not just a significant problem for wildlife. It has serious implications for the physical environment (air, soil, water) the ability of the natural environment to provide natural resources (such as food and construction materials), our ability to respond to the climate emergency and for our physical and mental health and well-being. Indeed, Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre data highlights that over 900 species of wildlife previously recorded in Lincolnshire have not been recorded since 1960. This potentially indicates significant losses.

11.1.2 The Environment Act received royal assent on 9 November 2021 and includes a new target to reverse the decline of species abundance in England by 2030.

11.1.3 The Central Lincolnshire authorities have a duty to protect and enhance biodiversity. They will work collaboratively and across administrative boundaries with other Local Planning Authorities, public bodies and local stakeholders, in order to support the delivery of strategic ambitions and priorities for nature, such as those set out in the Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

11.1.4 Central Lincolnshire has many areas which are noted for their natural beauty and biodiversity value. These areas also support a wide variety of species and habitats, and form an important part of the network of biodiversity sites within the wider environment. Wildlife sites and habitats that are, as at 2020, recognised as being of national, regional and local importance within or partly within Central Lincolnshire include: Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve (NNR), over 20 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), 383 Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), 17 Local Geological Sites (LGS), and 7 Local Nature Reserves (LNR). These sites support important natural assets, such as ancient woodland, heathland, acid grassland and wetland.

Designated Sites

11.1.5 Designated sites for nature conservation importance are classified into a hierarchy according to their status and the level of protection they should be afforded. International sites form the top tier of the hierarchy with the highest level of protection, followed by national and then locally designated sites. This policy seeks to ensure that appropriate weight is given to their importance and the contribution that they make to the wider ecological network. The table below sets out the hierarchy of designated sites that can be found in Central Lincolnshire, and National and Local sites are shown on the Policies Map.

Hierarchy of Protected Designated Sites in Central Lincolnshire

International Sites

None within Central Lincolnshire

National Sites

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

National Nature Reserves (NNR)

Local Sites

Local Nature Reserves (LNR)

Local Wildlife Sites (LWS)

Local Geological Sites (LGS)

11.1.6 Although there are no international sites within Central Lincolnshire, there are 5 European sites within 15km of its boundary: Humber Estuary SAC, Humber Estuary SPA/Ramsar, Thorne Moor SAC, Hatfield Moor SAC and Thorne and Hatfield Moors SPA. These internationally important sites are protected by the Habitats Regulations.

11.1.7 Nationally designated sites are of national importance for biodiversity or geodiversity and are designated under UK legislation. Development that is likely to have an adverse effect on such sites, alone or in combination with other developments, will only be supported in exceptional circumstances, in accordance with the NPPF.

11.1.8 Locally designated sites are non-statutory, but none the less are valuable components of the local ecological network, make an important contribution to nature’s recovery, and provide benefits for both people and wildlife. On-going surveys can reveal new areas that warrant such protection. Policy S60 will be applied to any new sites or extensions to existing sites following the adoption of this Local Plan.

11.1.9 Irreplaceable habitats are defined in the NPPF glossary. Examples present in Central Lincolnshire include ancient woodland, ancient and veteran trees, ancient grassland and heathland.  Their significance is derived from age, uniqueness, species diversity or rarity. Development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats will be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons[2] and a suitable compensation strategy exists.

Biodiversity Outside of Designated Sites

11.1.10 Landscape and habitat features that lie outside of designated sites can also provide valuable spaces and corridors for habitats and species, including protected species. Waterways, for example, can be valuable for biodiversity, providing green and blue corridors that link habitats and wildlife sites. Maintaining and enhancing a network of habitats, species and wildlife sites, and linkages between them, is important to achieving the vision and aims of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

11.1.11 The Nature Recovery Network is a major commitment in the UK Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan and intends to improve, expand and connect habitats to address wildlife decline and provide wider environmental benefits for people. This approach will build on the work of previous national initiatives, such as Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs). NIAs are landscape-scale initiatives that aim to ensure land is used sustainably to achieve multiple benefits for people, wildlife and the local economy. The Humberhead Levels is a nationally selected NIA that spans the administrative boundaries of North Lincolnshire and West Lindsey District Councils.

Mitigation Hierarchy

11.1.12 The mitigation hierarchy is an approach to limiting the negative impacts of development on biodiversity and is set out in the NPPF. It requires that if significant harm to biodiversity resulting from development cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission should be refused. Avoidance of adverse impacts to biodiversity as a direct or indirect result of development must be the first consideration. Avoidance measures may include either locating development on an alternative site with less harmful impact, or locating development within the site to avoid damaging a particular habitat feature. Compensation will only be considered after all other options have been explored and strictly as a last resort.

Species and Habitats of Principal Importance

11.1.13 Some species benefit from statutory protection under a range of legislative provisions (such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017). There are also a range of Priority Habitats and Priority Species in England that are listed as habitats or species of principal importance under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Community Act (2006). The current national list (August 2010) contains 56 habitats of principal importance and 943 species of principal importance.

11.1.14 Developers will be expected to submit sufficient, suitable and robust information with their application to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of habitats and species associated with their site, and to enable the likely effects on biodiversity to be assessed. This may include a desk study, a completed biodiversity checklist or toolkit, Phase 1 habitat survey, or other appropriate ecological survey, where there is a reasonable likelihood of the presence of important habitats or species. This will help to avoid potentially costly delays at a later date and allow a planning decision to be made in a timely manner.

11.1.15 The Lincolnshire Environmental Records Centre holds data on statutory and non-statutory designated sites, habitats and species and is therefore a useful source of biodiversity information.

11.1.16 The Partnership for Biodiversity in Planning has created a free online tool, the Wildlife Assessment Check[3], to help applicants identify whether there is a need to conduct ecological appraisals before submitting a planning application.

11.1.17

1. NBN (2019) State of Nature 2019 [back]
2. For example, infrastructure projects (including nationally significant infrastructure projects, orders under the Transport and Works Act and hybrid bills), only where the public benefit would clearly outweigh the loss or deterioration of habitat. [back]
3. https://www.biodiversityinplanning.org/wildlife-assessment-check/ [back]
Policy S60: Protecting Biodiversity and Geodiversity

All development should:

  1. protect, manage, enhance and extend the ecological network of habitats, species and sites of international, national and local importance (statutory and non-statutory), including sites that meet the criteria for selection as a Local Site;
  2. minimise impacts on biodiversity and features of geodiversity value;
  3. deliver measurable and proportionate net gains in biodiversity in accordance with Policy S61; and
  4. protect and enhance the aquatic environment within or adjoining the site, including water quality and habitat.

Part One: Designated Sites

The following hierarchy of sites will apply in the consideration of development proposals:

1.     International Sites

The highest level of protection will be afforded to internationally protected sites. Development proposals that will have an adverse impact on the integrity of such areas, will not be supported other than in exceptional circumstances, in accordance with the NPPF.

Development proposals that are likely to result in a significant adverse effect, either alone or in combination with other proposals, on any internationally designated site, must satisfy the requirements of the Habitats Regulations (or any superseding similar UK legislation). Development requiring Appropriate Assessment will only be allowed where it can be determined, taking into account mitigation, that the proposal would not result in significant adverse effects on the site’s integrity.

2.     National Sites (NNRs and SSSIs as shown on the Policies Map)

Development proposals should avoid impact on these nationally protected sites. Development proposals within or outside a national site, likely to have an adverse effect, either individually or in combination with other developments, will not normally be supported unless the benefits of the development, at this site, clearly outweigh both the adverse impacts on the features of the site and any adverse impacts on the wider network of nationally protected sites.

3.     Irreplaceable Habitats

Planning permission will be refused for development resulting in the loss, deterioration or fragmentation of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy will be delivered.

4.     Local Sites (LNR, LWS and LGS as shown on the Policies Map)

Development likely to have an adverse effect on locally designated sites, their features or their function as part of the ecological network, will only be supported where the benefits of the development clearly outweigh the loss, and the coherence of the local ecological network is maintained. Where significant harm cannot be avoided, the mitigation hierarchy should be followed.

Part Two: Species and Habitats of Principal Importance

All development proposals will be considered in the context of the relevant Local Authority’s duty to promote the protection and recovery of priority species and habitats.

Development should seek to preserve, restore and re-create priority habitats, ecological networks and the protection and recovery of priority species set out in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, Lincolnshire Biodiversity Action Plan, Lincolnshire Geodiversity Strategy and Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

Where adverse impacts are likely, development will only be supported where the need for and benefits of the development clearly outweigh these impacts. In such cases, appropriate mitigation or compensatory measures will be required.

Part Three: Mitigation of Potential Adverse Impacts

Development should avoid adverse impact on existing biodiversity and geodiversity features as a first principle, in line with the mitigation hierarchy. Where adverse impacts are unavoidable they must be adequately and proportionately mitigated. If full mitigation cannot be provided, compensation will be required as a last resort where there is no alternative.

Development will only be supported where the proposed measures for mitigation and/or compensation along with details of net gain are acceptable to the Local Planning Authority in terms of design and location, and are secured for the lifetime of the development with appropriate funding mechanisms that are capable of being secured by condition and/or legal agreement.

If significant harm to biodiversity resulting from development cannot be avoided, adequately mitigated, or, as a last resort, compensated for, then planning permission will be refused.

11.2 Biodiversity Opportunity and Net Gain

11.2.1 National planning policy states that development should deliver a net gain in biodiversity. The Environment Act sets out a mandatory requirement for development to deliver at least a 10% biodiversity net gain and approval of a biodiversity net gain plan. The Act includes provision for secondary legislation to set a date for the requirement to come into force.

11.2.2 Biodiversity net gain means leaving the natural environment in a measurably better state than before, and is central to delivering nature’s recovery and increasing stocks of natural capital. Net gain should deliver genuine additional improvements for biodiversity by creating or enhancing habitats in association with development. Such improvements should go beyond any required mitigation and/or compensation measures following the application of the mitigation hierarchy. As part of delivering net gains for nature, development proposals will be expected to protect, provide and extend green infrastructure in accordance with Policy S59 Green and Blue Infrastructure Network.

11.2.3 Biodiversity net gain can be achieved on-site, off-site or through a combination of on-site and off-site measures, or through the purchase of statutory biodiversity credits. Development proposals can, for example, provide a net gain in biodiversity on-site through the enhancement of the existing features of the site, the creation of additional habitats or the linking of existing habitats to reduce fragmentation in the local ecological network. The Central Lincolnshire Authorities’ preference is for biodiversity net gain to be delivered on, or adjacent to, the development site, in accordance with the mitigation hierarchy. Only in exceptional circumstances and in the interests of biodiversity, will biodiversity offsetting schemes be considered acceptable. An example of an off-site measure, if sufficient biodiversity net gain cannot be achieved within the development site, could be where there is opportunity to create, restore or enhance habitats off site that form part of the Nature Recovery Network and where this is considered the best outcome for biodiversity.  

11.2.4 Net gains in biodiversity can be delivered by almost all development, by following the principles of the mitigation hierarchy and understanding the ecological constraints and opportunities from the early stages of design.

11.2.5 Biodiversity enhancements can include both the creation of new habitat as well as improving existing habitats and can include, but are not limited to:

  • Bird and bat boxes/bricks integrated into the structure of existing and/or new buildings
  • Wildlife friendly sustainable urban drainage (SuDs)
  • Wildlife tunnels under paths and roads
  • Wildlife friendly ponds
  • Living roofs and walls
  • Bug hotels
  • Using native plants in landscaping
  • Setting aside space within a development to create new habitat, such as woodland, wetland or wildflower meadows
  • Improve and re-naturalise waterways

11.2.6 The proposals for enhancement of biodiversity will depend on the nature and scale of the development, however a development with limited or no impacts on biodiversity should still seek to demonstrate a net gain. Small-scale development proposals form a significant proportion of the planning applications received by the Central Lincolnshire Authorities and therefore collectively, could make a notable contribution to biodiversity net gain and the wider Nature Recovery Network. The Local Planning Authority will use planning conditions to require that a planning permission provides for works that will measurably increase biodiversity.

11.2.7 A suitable biodiversity metric should be used to demonstrate that a ‘measurable biodiversity net gain’ has been achieved. The preferred metric for calculating biodiversity net losses and gains is the Natural England Biodiversity Metric, which supports and reinforces the application of the mitigation hierarchy.[4] The metric calculates the change in biodiversity resulting from a project or development by subtracting the number of pre-intervention or ‘baseline’ biodiversity units (i.e. those originally existing on-site and off-site where applicable) from the number of post-intervention units (i.e. those projected to be provided after the development or change in land management). All applications should be supported by the submission of the full metric assessment.

11.2.8 Local Ecological Network[5], Biodiversity Opportunity and Green Infrastructure Mapping has been prepared for Central Lincolnshire by the GLNP. These maps identify the known existing areas of high biodiversity value and areas of local biodiversity priority where it is considered most important and feasible to target habitat creation, extension and restoration. To complement these maps, a set of principles has been prepared (see Appendix 4 of this Local Plan), to guide development proposals that fall within or overlap the biodiversity opportunity areas. Development proposals should have regard to the above evidence and to the biodiversity opportunity area principles.

11.2.9 A Supplementary Planning Document is currently being prepared to provide further guidance on providing biodiversity net gain through development proposals.

11.2.10 Major and large scale development schemes[6] should deliver wider environmental net gain wherever possible, reflecting the opportunities identified in the Central Lincolnshire Biodiversity Opportunity and GI Mapping, Central Lincolnshire Green Infrastructure Strategy and Local Nature Recovery Strategy (or any subsequent replacements). Seeking to achieve wider environmental net gain should reduce pressure on, and achieve overall improvements in, natural capital and ecosystem services and the benefits that they deliver.[7] 

11.2.11 The baseline data on habitats and species that underpin local biodiversity strategy, the local ecological network, biodiversity, and green infrastructure opportunities, will be kept up to date by the GLNP through the management of the Lincolnshire Environmental Record Centre.

11.2.12

4. Biodiversity Metric 3.0 or its successor. User guidance can be found on Natural England’s website: The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 - JP039 (nepubprod.appspot.com) [back]
5. The components of the ecological network within Central Lincolnshire have been mapped and are available to view on the Central Lincolnshire website on the Interactive Map. This will be updated annually incorporating data supplied by the GLNP. [back]
6. As defined in the Glossary [back]
7. Guidance on the application of a natural capital approach can be found on the Government website at: Enabling a Natural Capital Approach guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) [back]
Policy S61: Biodiversity Opportunity and Delivering Measurable Net Gains

Following application of the mitigation hierarchy, all development proposals should ensure opportunities are taken to retain, protect and enhance biodiversity and geodiversity features proportionate to their scale, through site layout, design of new buildings and proposals for existing buildings with consideration to the construction phase and ongoing site management.

Development proposals should create new habitats, and links between habitats, in line with Central Lincolnshire Biodiversity Opportunity and Green Infrastructure Mapping evidence, the biodiversity opportunity area principles set out in Appendix 4 to this Plan and the Local Nature Recovery Strategy (once completed), to maintain and enhance a network of wildlife sites and corridors, to minimise habitat fragmentation and provide opportunities for species to respond and adapt to climate change.

Proposals for major and large scale development should seek to deliver wider environmental net gains where feasible.

All qualifying[8] development proposals must deliver at least a 10% measurable biodiversity net gain attributable to the development. The net gain for biodiversity should be calculated using Natural England’s Biodiversity Metric.

Biodiversity net gain should be provided on-site wherever possible. Biodiversity offsetting schemes should only be used in exceptional circumstances, where net gain cannot be achieved within the site boundary or where greater gains can be delivered off-site where the improvements can be demonstrated to be deliverable and are consistent with the Local Nature Recovery Strategy.

All development proposals must provide clear and robust evidence for biodiversity net gains and losses in the form of a biodiversity gain plan, which should be submitted with the planning application, setting out:

  1. information about the steps to be taken to minimise the adverse effect of the development on the biodiversity of the onsite habitat and any other habitat;
  2. the pre-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat;
  3. the post-development biodiversity value of the onsite habitat following implementation of the proposed ecological enhancements/interventions;
  4. the ongoing management strategy for any proposals;
  5. any registered off-site gain allocated to the development and the biodiversity value of that gain in relation to the development; and
  6. exceptionally any biodiversity credits purchased for the development through a recognised and deliverable offsetting scheme.

Demonstrating the value of the habitat (pre and post-development) with appropriate and robust evidence will be the responsibility of the applicant. Proposals which do not demonstrate that the post-development biodiversity value will exceed the pre-development value of the onsite habitat by a 10% net gain will be refused.

Ongoing management of any new or improved onsite and offsite habitats, together with monitoring and reporting, will need to be planned and funded for 30 years after completion of a development.

8. As defined in The Environment Act 2021, Schedule 7A, Part 2, Paragraph 17. [back]

11.3 Responding to Landscape Character

11.3.1 Central Lincolnshire is a predominantly rural landscape interspersed by the City of Lincoln, market towns and smaller settlements and characterised by its contrasting chalk and limestone uplands, low lying vales and fenland landscapes. The Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a nationally designated area with the highest status of landscape protection, and the Lincoln Hillside is recognised as one of the most historic townscapes in the East Midlands.

11.3.2 In addition, landscape character assessments developed for previous Local Plans have identified locally designated Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) which are considered to be of high landscape value to the local areas with strong distinctive characteristics which make them particularly sensitive to development. The primary objective is the conservation and enhancement of their landscape quality and individual character.

11.3.3 Key views within the landscape, as well as in to and out of settlements, are valued by the local community, contribute to the distinctive local identity of a place and assist in way finding.

11.3.4 The Central Lincolnshire authorities are committed to ensuring that development protects, and wherever possible enhances, the intrinsic value of our landscape whilst enabling strategic, sustainable growth which is necessary for Central Lincolnshire’s communities and economies to thrive.

Policy S62: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Areas of Great Landscape Value

The Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a nationally designated landscape and has the highest level of protection. Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and scenic beauty in this area. All development proposals within, or affecting the setting of, the AONB shall:

  1. be compatible with the special character of the area and have had regard to conserving and enhancing the special quality and scenic beauty of the landscape; and
  2. respect the landscape character, topography, and context in relation to the siting, design, scale and extent of development; and
  3. protect and enhance important views into, out of and within the AONB; and
  4. retain and enhance existing natural, historic and cultural features that contribute to the special quality of the landscape.

Proposals which will result in an adverse impact on the AONB or which fail to demonstrate that they will not have an adverse impact taking into account any mitigation proposed will not be supported.

Areas of Great Landscape Value

Areas of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) are locally designated landscape areas recognised for their intrinsic character and beauty and their natural, historic and cultural importance. A high level of protection will be afforded to AGLV reflecting their locally important high scenic quality, special landscape features and sensitivity.

Development proposals within, or within the setting of, AGLV shall:

  1. conserve and enhance the qualities, character and distinctiveness of locally important landscapes; and
  2. protect, and where possible enhance, specific landscape, wildlife and historic features which contribute to local character and landscape quality; and
  3. maintain landscape quality and minimise adverse visual impacts through high quality building and landscape design; and
  4. demonstrate how proposals have responded positively to the landscape character in relation to siting, design, scale and massing and where appropriate have retained or enhanced important views, and natural, historic and cultural features of the landscape; and
  5. where appropriate, restore positive landscape character and quality.

Where a proposal may result in adverse impacts, it may exceptionally be supported if the overriding benefits of the development demonstrably outweigh the harm – in such circumstances the harm should be minimised and mitigated through design and landscaping.

11.4 Green Wedges

11.4.1 Green Wedges (previously known in some parts as settlement breaks) are open areas around and between parts of a settlement, or settlements, which maintain the distinction between the countryside and built up area, and which also provide recreational and wildlife protection and enhancement opportunities as part of the green and blue infrastructure and ecological network.

11.4.2 Green Wedges are an important part of the Central Lincolnshire landscape, are a longstanding element of local planning policy and are valued by local communities.

11.4.3 In general, there has been limited built development within the Green Wedges, however in recent years, some parts of the Green Wedge network have come under growing development pressure due to their proximity to the built up area. The Central Lincolnshire Authorities are committed to the principle of Green Wedges and resisting harmful development through planning policy and development management decisions.

11.4.4 Whilst the purpose of Green Wedges is to protect the open and undeveloped character of areas within them, it is not intended that they should operate as an absolute restriction on all development proposals. Due to their multi-functional role, there are also various ‘non-open space’ uses that already exist. As such, certain types of development may be acceptable, so long as they are not detrimental to the character, role and function of the Green Wedge within which they are situated. This is provided for under part a) of the policy and may include agricultural and forestry related development, green space, outdoor sport and recreation uses, the reuse of rural buildings and extensions or alterations to existing dwellings.

11.4.5 There may also be instances where it is essential for a certain type of development to be located in a Green Wedge. For the purposes of part b) of the policy this may include development required by a public or private utility to fulfil their statutory obligations, or the provision of strategic transport infrastructure, provided that other relevant Local Plan policies are satisfied.

Policy S63: Green Wedges

Green Wedges, as identified on the Policies Map, have been identified to fulfil one or more of the following functions and policy aims:

  • Provision of an accessible recreational resource, with both formal and informal opportunities, close to where people live, where public access is maximised without compromising the integrity of the Green Wedge;
  • Prevention of the physical merging of settlements, preserving their separate identity, local character and historic character;
  • Creation of a multi-functional ‘green lung’ to offer communities a direct and continuous link to the open countryside beyond the urban area;
  • Conservation and enhancement of local wildlife and protection of links between wildlife sites to support wildlife corridors.

Within the Green Wedges planning permission will not be granted for any form of development, including change of use, unless:

  1. it can be demonstrated that the development is not contrary or detrimental to the above functions and aims; or
  2. it is essential for the proposed development to be located within the Green Wedge, and the benefits of which override the potential impact on the Green Wedge.

Development proposals within a Green Wedge will be expected to have regard to:

  1. the need to retain the open and undeveloped character of the Green Wedge, physical separation between settlements, historic environment character and green infrastructure value;
  2. the maintenance and enhancement of the network of footpaths, cycleways and bridleways, and their links to the countryside, to retain and enhance public access, where appropriate to the role and function of the Green Wedge; and
  3. opportunities to improve the quality and function of green and blue infrastructure within the Green Wedge with regard to the Central Lincolnshire Green Infrastructure network and Biodiversity Opportunity Mapping.

Development proposals adjacent to the Green Wedges will be expected to demonstrate that:

  1. they do not adversely impact on the function of the Green Wedge, taking into account scale, siting, layout, design, materials and landscape treatment; and
  2. they have considered linkages to and enhancements of the adjacent Green Wedge.

11.5 Local Green Space

11.5.1 Local Green Space (LGS) is a national designation, as referenced in the NPPF, which aims to protect green areas or spaces which are demonstrably special to a local community and hold a particular local significance. LGS designation can be used where the green space is:

  • demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including playing fields), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife; and
  • in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves; and
  • local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

11.5.2 Planning permission will only be granted for development proposals in very special circumstances. These exceptions are set out in the NPPF and align with Green Belt status.

Policy S64: Local Green Space

An area identified as a Local Green Space on the Policies Map or within an adopted Neighbourhood Plan will be protected from development in line with the NPPF, which rules out development on these sites other than in very special circumstances. 

11.6 Important Open Space

11.6.1 In addition to Local Green Space (LGS) designations, this Local Plan also protects other existing Important Open Spaces (IOS). These open spaces are different to LGSs, in that LGSs have been identified by local communities, whereas IOSs have been identified by the Central Lincolnshire Authorities as open spaces important to the settlement in which they are located.

11.6.2 Central Lincolnshire has a wide variety of IOS that do not benefit from statutory designations. These spaces perform a range of functions and deliver a wealth of benefits to local people and wildlife. Parks and gardens, amenity space, play space for children/teenagers, outdoor sports facilities and allotments are all examples of publicly accessible IOS valued for their recreational and social functions, but they also contribute to the visual amenity and character of a settlement, providing relief from the built up area.

11.6.3 It is also important to note that public or private open spaces with limited or no public access can also perform an important role in contributing to the local community and quality of life. Open undeveloped spaces within a settlement are as important as the buildings in giving a settlement its unique character and form. Some open spaces, especially towards the edge of a settlement, are important in preserving the setting of a settlement. Other open spaces, including those not publicly accessible, provide breaks in the street scene and may allow views of the surrounding countryside to be enjoyed from within the settlement.

11.6.4 A number of areas within Central Lincolnshire have prepared Neighbourhood Plans, some of these contain designations for Important Open Space or an equivalent. These open spaces have not been duplicated as part of this policy, as they have their own protection through the Neighbourhood Plan in which they are designated.

Policy S65: Important Open Space

An area identified as an Important Open Space on the Policies Map is safeguarded from development unless it can be demonstrated that:

  1. there are no significant detrimental impacts on the character and appearance of the surrounding area, ecology and any heritage assets; and
  2. in the case of publicly accessible open space, there is an identified over provision of that particular type of open space in the community area and the site is not required for alternative recreational uses or suitable alternative open space can be provided on a replacement site or by enhancing existing open space serving the community area.

Some areas of Important Open Space are protected by their type, and are not shown in the Policies Map. These Important Open Spaces are:

  • Sports Centres/Recreation Grounds;
  • Cemeteries;
  • Churchyards;
  • School Playing Fields (in use as such);
  • Local Authority owned allotments;

They will be safeguarded from development, and any proposal for their loss will be considered against the criteria above and against national policy.

11.7 Trees, Woodland and Hedgerows

11.7.1 The Central Lincolnshire Authorities have a statutory duty (s197 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) to consider the protection and planting of trees when granting planning permission for proposed development. The potential effect of development on trees is a material consideration that must be taken into account in dealing with planning applications.

11.7.2 Trees, and hedgerows, contribute enormously to the character of many parts of the Central Lincolnshire area – they are very important visual elements in the landscape, since they are attractive in themselves, soften and give a context to development, provide focal points and screen unsightly areas from view. However, the amenity value of trees is not confined only to their contribution to visual character, trees, woodland and hedgerows are important components of Central Lincolnshire’s green infrastructure network. They can also help to reduce noise and prove beneficial in terms of atmospheric pollution, modifying microclimates and flood mitigation through storm water attenuation. Furthermore, they provide habitats for biodiversity, help to stabilise soil against erosion, and play a role in reducing climate change by locking up carbon dioxide. As a result, they are highly valued, and the relative scarcity of tree cover particularly in the southern half of the Central Lincolnshire area (North Kesteven District) gives them an added importance.

11.7.3 Trees and woodlands take many years to mature, ancient woodlands and aged or veteran trees in particular are irreplaceable. Aged and veteran trees are those which, because of their great age, size or condition are of exceptional wildlife, landscape or cultural value.

11.7.4 Mature trees, woodlands and hedgerows are sensitive to the impacts of development, either directly through their removal or indirectly through the impacts of construction or the future use of the site. Due to the length of time and the cost taken to replace mature features, and the contribution they can make to the quality of development, they should be retained and protected wherever possible.

11.7.5 The Central Lincolnshire Authorities will look to prevent the loss or damage of good quality trees, woodlands or hedgerows, especially those which are protected such as ancient woodlands, or have a high public amenity value. Policy S66 ensures that trees are not considered in isolation and that they are integral to the overall design of a scheme and contribute to the wider objectives of securing biodiversity and green infrastructure on new developments.

11.7.6 Where trees are present on a development site, a British Standard 5837 Tree Survey ‘Trees in relation to Construction survey’, a Tree Constraints Plan, an Arboricultural Impact Assessment and any other related survey information, should be submitted along with an application for planning permission. This will ensure it is clear that a proper consideration of all trees and woodlands has taken place and been taken into account in the preparation of proposals for a site. To ensure that tree cover and habitat is retained, it is important that both the short term and long term impacts that a development may have on trees is evaluated at the earliest opportunity. In addition, an Arboricultural Method Statement and associated Tree/Hedgerow Protection Plan will also be required where there is a likely adverse impact on the health and wellbeing of the trees, either through the pressure to prune or fell or through excavation works which could harm the root systems. The Statement should set out the measures that will need to be taken to protect the health of the trees during the construction period and afterwards.

11.7.7 Consideration also needs to be given to the growth potential and management requirements of trees and hedgerows. Where the loss of trees and hedges is unavoidable, they should be replaced with suitable new planting either within the site or in the locality if this is more appropriate. In the case of hedges, the renovation of existing hedges in the wider area can be an appropriate form of mitigation. Development can make a positive contribution to the tree resource in the area through on or off site planting.

11.7.8 The preference will be to incorporate existing natural features into the development. However, there may be instances where the loss of important natural features is unavoidable, for example to enable a scheme to fulfil important objectives such as economic development or the provision of housing. Where the loss of such features is demonstrably unavoidable, adequate replacement provision, preferably by native British species, of the same or greater value will be sought. The proposal will also be required to be demonstrate:

  • That the proposed development scheme could not be modified to retain the tree; and
  • That the development could not equally well go ahead elsewhere, where no harm to trees would be involved;
  • That the amenity value of the tree is outweighed by the benefits to the community of the development proposal.

11.7.9 Proposals that either directly or indirectly result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland will not be supported unless there are exceptional reasons and the need for and benefits of the development at that location clearly outweigh the loss. When considering the planning balance in these cases compensation proposals must not be considered as part of the benefits resulting from a development.

11.7.10 In terms of mitigation where loss of trees and woodland is proposed (and where it is deemed acceptable for such tree(s) to be lost, taking account of the status of the tree), then suitable proposals for mitigation, via compensation, should be provided. The tree compensation standard set out in this policy provides a suitable mechanism to determine the appropriate level of mitigation. The Council’s first preference is for on-site replacement at suitable locations within the curtilage of the development. In exceptional circumstances, where planting cannot be achieved on-site without compromising the achievement of good design, new tree planting proposals may be considered off site (including on public land) to mitigate. Where trees are to be provided off-site, planning obligations will be sought to cover replacement trees, their planting and their future maintenance.

11.7.11 Where new tree planting is proposed (irrespective of whether this is to compensate for losses on site), then the quantity, location and species selection of new trees will be expected to take practicable opportunities to meet the following six Tree Planting Principles:

  1. Be of an appropriate species for the site; and
  2. Assist in providing shade and shelter to address urban cooling, and in turn assist in mitigating against the effects of climate change; and
  3. Create habitat and, if possible, connect the development site to the Strategic Green Infrastructure Network; and
  4. Assist in reducing or mitigating run-off and flood risk on the development site; and
  5. Create a strong landscaping framework to either (a) enclose or mitigate the visual impact of a development or (b) create new and enhanced landscape;
  6. Avoid tree planting where it has potential to cause harm, such as to important habitats, peat soils, property or infrastructure.
Policy S66: Trees, Woodland and Hedgerows

Development proposals should be prepared based on the overriding principle that:

  • the existing tree and woodland cover is maintained, improved and expanded; and
  • opportunities for expanding woodland are actively considered, and implemented where practical and appropriate to do so.

Existing Trees and Woodland

Planning permission will only be granted if the proposal provides evidence that it has been subject to adequate consideration of the impact of the development on any existing trees and woodland found on-site (and off-site, if there are any trees near the site, with ‘near’ defined as the distance comprising 12 times the stem diameter of the off-site tree). If any trees exist on or near the development site, ‘adequate consideration’ is likely to mean the completion of a British Standard 5837 Tree Survey and, if applicable, an Arboricultural Method Statement.

Where the proposal will result in the loss or deterioration of:

  1. ancient woodland; and/or
  2. the loss of aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland,

permission will be refused, unless and on an exceptional basis the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

Where the proposal will result in the loss or deterioration of a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order or a tree within a Conservation Area, then permission will be refused unless:

  1. there is no net loss of amenity value which arises as a result of the development; or
  2. the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss.

Where the proposal will result in the loss of any other tree or woodland not covered by the above, then the Council will expect the proposal to retain those trees that make a significant contribution to the landscape or biodiversity value of the area, provided this can be done without compromising the achievement of good design for the site.

Mitigating for loss of Trees and Woodland

Where it is appropriate for higher value tree(s) (category A or B trees (BS5837)) and/or woodland to be lost as part of a development proposal, then appropriate mitigation, via compensatory tree planting, will be required. Such tree planting should be on-site wherever possible and should:

  1. take all opportunities to meet the six Tree Planting Principles (see supporting text); and
  2. unless demonstrably impractical or inappropriate, provide the following specific quantity of compensatory trees:

Trunk diameter(mm) at 1.5m above ground of tree lost to development

Number of replacement trees required, per tree lost*

75 - 200

1

210 - 400

4

410 - 600

6

610 - 800

9

810 - 1000

10

1000+

11

* replacement based on selected standards 10/12 cm girth at 1m

New Trees and Woodland

Where appropriate and practical, opportunities for new tree planting should be explored as part of all development proposals (in addition to, if applicable, any necessary compensatory tree provision). Where new trees are proposed, they should be done so on the basis of the five Tree

Planting Principles. Proposals which fail to provide practical opportunities for new tree planting will be refused.

Planting schemes should include provision to replace any plant failures within five years after the date of planting. Planting of trees must be considered in the context of wider plans for nature recovery which seeks to increase biodiversity and green infrastructure generally, not simply planting of trees, and protecting / enhancing soils, particularly peat soils. Tree planting should only be carried out in appropriate locations that will not impact on existing ecology or opportunities to create alternative habitats that could deliver better enhancements for people and wildlife, including carbon storage. Where woodland habitat creation is appropriate, consideration should be given to the economic and ecological benefits that can be achieved through natural regeneration. Any tree planting should use native and local provenance tree species suitable for the location.

Management and Maintenance

In instances where new trees and/or woodlands are proposed, it may be necessary for the council to require appropriate developer contributions to be provided, to ensure provision is made for appropriate management and maintenance of the new trees and/or woodland.

Hedgerows

Proposals for new development will be expected to retain existing hedgerows where appropriate and integrate them fully into the design having regard to their management requirements.

Proposals for new development will not be supported that would result in the loss of hedges of high landscape, heritage, amenity or biodiversity value unless the need for, and benefits of, the development clearly outweigh the loss and this loss can be clearly demonstrated to be unavoidable.

Development requiring the loss of a hedgerow protected under The Hedgerow Regulations will only be supported where it would allow for a substantially improved overall approach to the design and landscaping of the development that would outweigh the loss of the hedgerow. Where any hedges are lost, suitable replacement planting or restoration of existing hedges, will be required within the site or the locality, including appropriate provision for maintenance and management.

11.8 Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land

11.8.1 Agriculture is a significant land use across Central Lincolnshire, and the wider Lincolnshire area and generates a significant proportion of the national food production. Therefore the protection of the best and most versatile land is key to ensure that food production is not negatively impacted by development. The Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) mapping shows that with the exception of a few relatively small areas of Grade 1 land, the majority of agricultural land within Central Lincolnshire is either Grade 2 or Grade 3, with approximately 50% of the area classified as Grade 3.

11.8.2 Development of the best and most versatile agricultural land will only be supported where it can be demonstrated that the need for the development, its benefits and/or sustainability considerations outweigh the need to protect such land taking into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land.

11.8.3 Proposals for development on unallocated sites which would individually or cumulatively result in a significant loss (1 hectare or more) of best and most versatile agricultural land will also need to demonstrate that there are no other suitable alternative sites which could accommodate either all or part of the development on either previously developed land, or land within the built up area of existing adjacent or nearby settlements, or on poorer quality agricultural land. All proposals over one hectare which would have the potential to involve the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land will be expected to be accompanied by an agricultural land classification statement.

Policy S67: Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land

Proposals should protect the best and most versatile agricultural land so as to protect opportunities for food production and the continuance of the agricultural economy.

With the exception of allocated sites, development resulting in the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land will only be supported if:

  1. The need for the proposed development has been clearly established and there is insufficient lower grade land available at that settlement (unless development of such lower grade land would be inconsistent with other sustainability considerations); and
  2. The benefits and/or sustainability considerations outweigh the need to protect such land, when taking into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land; and
  3. The impacts of the proposal upon ongoing agricultural operations have been minimised through the use of appropriate design solutions; and
  4. Where feasible, once any development which is supported has ceased its useful life the land will be restored to its former use (this condition will be secured by planning condition where appropriate).

Where proposals are for sites of 1 hectare or larger, which would result in the loss of best and most versatile agricultural land, an agricultural land classification report should be submitted, setting out the justification for such a loss and how criterion b has been met.