Appendix A: Phase 1 proposals
The proposals in the Phase 1 work programme include changes to PDR specifically related to:
- agricultural and forestry development
- developments relating to active travel
- digital communications infrastructure
- peatland restoration
We published our Update to the 2019 Sustainability Appraisal alongside the consultation draft Phase 1 proposals. This builds on the findings included in the 2019 SA report, taking into account the comments received. It also considers those new aspects of the Phase 1 proposals which were not previously assessed or which require more detailed assessment.
The Update also outlines any new or additional mitigation measures identified in relation to these development types. A summary of these is provided below.
In relation to farm sheds and in light of comments received regarding impacts where sheds are used to house livestock, the Update acknowledges the potential for negative impacts on air quality where PDR leads to an intensification of livestock production. The draft Phase 1 proposals retain the existing prior approval/ notification process that applies to the erection of an agricultural building under PDR (or significant alteration or significant extension of an existing one). The proposals would also retain the existing restriction on the use of buildings erected under PDR for housing certain livestock or for the storage of slurry or sewage where it is within 400m of a protected building.
In relation to polytunnels, some respondents to the 2019 consultation considered that the impact of polytunnels could be more significant and less temporary than was suggested in the SA. The proposals set out the intention to prepare new guidance clarifying those PDRs under which polytunnels may be erected or provided, and how polytunnels should be treated where a planning application (or prior approval) is required. A specific PDR for polytunnels is not proposed at this time.
With regard to farm steading conversions, some respondents expressed concern regarding the SA findings generally in relation to flood risk, in particular where PDR could lead to an increase in people living in areas of flood risk. The Phase 1 consultation proposes that the relevant PDRs would be subject to a prior notification/prior approval process in respect of flood risk.
On digital communications infrastructure, comments received to the 2019 SA highlighted concerns related to impacts on cultural and historic heritage, as well as carbon rich soils. The 2019 SA identified a number of mitigation measures in relation to each type of digital communications infrastructure development. We consider these to remain valid. However, in addition to these, and based on the comments received, the draft Phase 1 proposals confirm our intention to publish guidance on siting and design of digital communications infrastructure which will help ensure the mitigation of potential negative effects identified in relation to the natural and built environment. Further controls will also be considered as part of the prior approval mechanism discussed in the consultation paper.
On developments relating to active travel, the Update considers likely environmental effects as a result of new proposals relating to on-street cycle and scooter storage. The Update found these to have positive impacts for climatic factors, air quality and population and human health, as well as potential for negative impacts on cultural heritage.
Finally, in relation to peatland restoration, we consider that the findings of the 2019 SA remain valid.