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Integrating sustainability within planning


Information for developers, which will help you incorporate sustainability much more easily and readily into development.

Guidance is available for developers on how to best integrate sustainability into new developments and major refurbishments.

Ensuring planning applications consider sustainability issues from the design and pre-planning stages of development is an essential component to reducing building costs, while in the longer term ensuring the development running costs remain low. The objective is to achieve lower carbon buildings, which is a fundamental contribution to achieving sustainable development.

Creating buildings that generate fewer carbon emissions is not only socially and environmentally desirable, it can have big economic advantages too. Developments that consider sustainability from the outset are often cheaper to build and more pleasant to occupy.

A study led by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that sustainable buildings can earn higher rents and prices, attract tenants and buyers more quickly, cut tenant turnover, cost less to operate and maintain and bring a feeling of wellbeing to the occupiers. Buildings constructed in line with environmentally-conscious principles are considered good long-term investments because they are often more capable of coping with increasingly severe weather events as well as changing environmental controls and legislation. They also cost less to operate.

Sustainability Statements

In order to help the decision making process, we require that applicants for major development proposals submit a Sustainability Statement to demonstrate the social, economic and environmental benefits of the development. This requirement is listed within the  Icon for pdf Planning Application Validation Checklist (PDF, 970.2kb)  The applicant should provide information regarding the associated social, economic and environmental effects of the proposed development's location and design, along with any measures to address adverse effects.

The statement will:

  • Enable the planning case officer (and any other interested party) to see how sustainability issues have been considered and addressed.
  • Speed up decisions in relation to whether the presumption in favour of sustainable development has been met.
  • Enable the planning department to monitor the extent to which developments in County Durham are sustainable.
  • Ensure applicants fully consider embedding sustainability.

Format of the Sustainability Statement

The structure of a Sustainability Statement should be in three key parts:

  1. Location: The choice of location for a development can have a significant impact upon its ability to contribute towards sustainability objectives including but not limited to; reducing the need to travel, protecting the viability of town centres, protection and enhancement of biodiversity, landscape and heritage. Accordingly, it is essential that applicants demonstrate how social, economic and environmental factors are affected by the proposed location of the development. Where potentially adverse effects are identified applicants should also set out the mitigation measures that will be employed.
  2. Design, Construction and Management: The applicant will be further required to demonstrate how the development of the site including the design, construction and management stages will contribute to sustainable development. For example, will the design enable adaptability to changing social needs; will a considerate construction scheme be adhered to, what are the green guide ratings of materials?
  3. Carbon/Energy Analysis: How will the development meet the Energy Hierarchy and go beyond Part L?  Will the development include low/zero carbon technologies? Design stage BER/TER rates must also be included.

Exceptions to the requirements

The requirement for a Sustainability Statement only applies to applications for planning permission. The following types of planning application will be exempt unless they are considered to raise a particular planning or sustainability issue:

  • Residential developments comprising of less than 10 dwellings (unless in an off gas area - in such instances the requirement remains).
  • Householder applications for alterations and extensions to dwelling houses.
  • Alterations and extensions to existing non-residential buildings, including:
    • Extension of additional gross floorspace where the gross employment floorspace falls below 1000 m2 or retail floorspace falls below 2,500 m2.
    • External works where no additional floorspace is being created eg new air conditioning units, new shopfronts, new windows.
    • Applications proposing a change of use where the gross employment floorspace falls below 1000m2 or retail floorspace falls below 2,500 m2 and there are no subdivision of units eg conversion of an office block to multiple units of student accommodation would not be exempt.
Contact us
Sustainability Carbon and Climate Change
03000 265 545
Our address is:
  • 5th Floor
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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