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Local Authority (LA) planning policies

The Local Authority planning system is the primary means of day to day planning and construction administration in England and Wales. This usually consists of two key arms, the Planning Inspectorate; responsible for processing applications and approval, and the Building Control office; responsible for ensuring buildings meet minimum design standards, including energy and CO2 performance. The latter of these two services is now also available by a number of appropriately qualified private sector actors.

Typically on a major development, the developer will be required to submit an energy and sustainability statement to the planning authority; demonstrating how the development meets the required energy and sustainability performance as outlined in their LDF and other supplementary planning guidance.

Minimising Emissions from Buildings

The developer will also be required to submit detailed energy calculations using the SAP methodology to the Building Control Officer, demonstrating adherence to the building regulations.

Through the drive to minimise emissions from buildings, many planning authorities have incorporated explicit CO2 and sustainability targets as part of their LDF core strategies. This has been typically done through requirements to meet CfSH targets as shown in  below. These targets have associated explicit performance for CO2

Table  CfSH Targets as outlined CP3 Supplementary Planning GuidanceTime period Minimum rating Minimum standard for categories (% of un-weighted credits) 2010-2012Level 3Energy 50%2013 -2015Level 4Water 50%2016+Level 6 ‘zero carbon’Materials 50%

Alongside this many LAs have adopted requirements for a minimum 10% of onsite energy to be delivered through renewable energy.  This typically referred to the ‘Merton rule’ was first adopted in the London borough of Merton, although many LAs are now mandating 20% or more. Some authorities such as Camden have also been keen to advocate niche standards such as the Passivhaus standard, with one of the UKs first Passivhaus’ built in the borough.

For residential projects involving the major refurbishment of existing buildings involving 5 or more dwellings, or 500sqm of floor space or more, many local authorities such as Camden have also required a BREEAM Domestic Refurbishment rating of ‘Excellent’ from 2013. However in order to constitute a major refurbishment it is considered that significant change of use or extension works will be undertaken.

‘A growing number of local authorities are specifying BREEAM in their Local Plans. As of January 2013, all local planning authorities in Wales, and around 55% of those in England, required development to meet standards in the Code for Sustainable Homes and/or BREEAM in local plans which were adopted or at an advanced stage of preparation.’.

BREEAM as a Requirement

The inclusion of BREEAM as a requirement in LDFs is an interesting development, when considering that the standard, unlike the CfSH is essentially a voluntary assessment methodology devised and administered by the private sector. Developers must pay fees directly to the BRE in order to assess a building against a BREEAM scheme, usually alongside fees to qualified BREEAM consultants.

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