UPDATE ON WATER NEUTRALITY AND PLANNING DECISIONS IN HORSHAM DISTRICT

HDC can confirm that they can continue to determine most planning applications for householder development, some very minor schemes and certificates of lawful development under Parts 1 and 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended) as they have previously done, as they will not have a significant effect either individually or cumulatively on the Arun Valley sites.

All other types of permitted development, including prior approvals, will likely need to be screened to consider whether they have a significant effect. The applicant may though need to seek approval under Section 77 of the Habitats Regulations to seek to demonstrate the proposal does not have a significant effect. This is because Regulation 75 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 imposes a condition on any permission granted by the General Permitted Development Order that is likely to have a significant effect on a European Site, that development must not commence until a developer has received written notification of the approval of the local planning authority under Regulation 77.

HDC will therefore likely receive a new type of Section 77 application. This will not be subject to public consultation as the key consideration will be any response from Natural England and the Council’s ecologist, to ascertain whether the development has a significant effect. These will though be available to view through the Councils weekly list.

HDC can continue to determine non material amendments and condition discharge applications as HDC have previously. Amendments to permissions already granted will need to be assessed on a case by case basis depending on the likelihood of implementation of the extant permission and what the changes are.

In the case of all other development, where an increase in water consumption is likely (including reserved matters), HDC will require the application to be accompanied by a water neutrality statement setting out the strategy for achieving water neutrality within the development. Water neutrality can be achieved by developers building significant water efficiency measures into new development and by providing offsetting measures to reduce water consumption from existing development, so the development becomes water neutral. The statement will need to calculate the water balance and HDC will be providing some further guidance on what should be included in a water neutrality statement. It is not just a case of providing water efficiencies measures onsite as this will not make the development water neutral.

This also applies to any applications which have a resolution to grant but have yet to be granted. Any applications which have been to committee will need to return to committee if HDC are able to continue to recommend approval, after consideration of the water neutrality matter.

If an application cannot demonstrate water neutrality is reasonably achievable this will mean the development will not meet the requirements of Section 63 of the Habitats Regulations, and the application could not be determined positively.

As this is a recent and very significant matter, HDC will allow time for water neutrality strategies to be produced and submitted where the issue of water neutrality is the only outstanding matter preventing the grant, or recommendation of grant, of planning permission. If a water neutrality statement is received on a current application HDC will allow for a period of re-consultation for Parish, Neighbourhood Councils and any neighbours to comment. Going forward HDC will be updating their local list and water neutrality statements will be provided at the point of validation.

At this stage there is no known mitigation for the potential impacts on the Arun Valley sites other than demonstrating water neutrality.

There are some useful background documents on the Waterwise website including ‘A Review of Water Neutrality in the UK.’ Any proposal in Horsham District will though need to provide locally sourced information.

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