City Council Report for Information

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1 City Council Report for Information Report to: Subject: Report of: Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee Sustainable Development Assistant Chief Executive (Regeneration) Summary This report outlines measures available through planning policy to encourage developers to maximise how eco friendly their developments are. It sets out how negotiating sustainable design has become an intrinsic part of the planning process and includes examples of how policy guidance has been applied. Recommendations That Members note the report. Ward Affected: All Contact Officers: Sara Todd Assistant Chief Executive (Regeneration) Julie Roscoe Head of Planning Background document (available for public inspection): - Saved Policies Unitary Development Plan - Guide to Development in Manchester Supplementary Planning Document/Planning Guidance - Core Strategy 55

2 Introduction 1.1 Members have requested a report, which outlines measures that are available through planning policy to encourage developers to maximise how eco friendly their developments are. This follows discussions arising from a report on the Annual Carbon Reduction Plan , presented to the Communities and Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 22 nd July One of the matters raised related to drainage problems caused by widespread use of hard surfaces and it was agreed that this could be addressed in a future report on sustainable development. 1.2 Sustainability has been an important consideration and an intrinsic part of the planning process for a number of years; initially this was supported through the policies in the Unitary Development Plan and the Guide to Development and more recently by virtue of the newly adopted Core Strategy. It has become firmly embedded in the development process and the large majority of developers who engage with the City Council on a regular basis see this as a critical part of the process in any event. 1.3 This report summarises the policy context, which provides a sound basis for negotiating sustainable design and how the guidance is being applied. It also provides examples of development, which have successfully incorporated measures to improve their sustainability credentials. It also sets out how sustainability is one objective that must be balanced and weighed against other key requirements of the City Council. 1.0 Policy Context 1.1 The City Council s commitment to sustainability and the role of the planning process in helping to achieve this objective was implicit in the policy framework comprising the Unitary Development Plan, and subsequently in the Guide to Development which has been adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document and Planning Guidance. 2.2 The objective has been to work with developers to deliver achievable, financially viable approaches to all aspects of sustainability and for all types of development. 2.3 The Guide to Development sets out a requirement for developers to address sustainability and informs that this should be through the submission of an environmental standards statement (to accompany a planning application) to cover, where appropriate: Energy efficiency Renewable energy Environmental design Water management and weather resilience Waste management Construction management, and 56

3 Biodiversity. 2.4 Further, through the consideration of environmental design, an assessment based on the Code for Sustainable Homes (which replaced the EcoHomes system) for residential development and for non-residential developments, a BREEAM assessment (Building Research Establishment Environmental assessment Method) is sought on a broad range of applications. 2.5 Matters relating to permeable and non-permeable surfaces are considered under the surface water credit of a BREEAM Assessment. 2.6 The recently adopted Core Strategy builds on previous policy and confirms that subject to scheme viability, developers will be required to demonstrate that new developments incorporate sustainable construction techniques which: for new residential development meets as a minimum code 3 - year 2010, code 4 - year 2013 and code 6 - year 2016; until a higher national standard is required. For non-residential development applicants are asked to demonstrate best practice, which will include the application of the BREEAM standards. 2.7 The Core Strategy has also introduced a new element relating to an energy statement. This replaces the energy efficiency and renewable energy components of the environmental standards statement (required by the Guide) and is only required on applications, which propose 10 or more residential units or applications for development larger than 1,000 sq m. The purpose of an Energy Statement is to get developers to think about the energy demand and resultant carbon emissions early in the design process when the lower cost opportunities are available both to design out energy demand and to design in low carbon energy solutions. (Much of the information required in an energy statement will have to be provided in order to achieve building regulation approval.) 3 The Code for Sustainable Homes 3.1 The Code for Sustainable Homes is the national standard for the sustainable design and construction of new homes. It is entirely voluntary (although there are exceptions set out in 3.2) and is intended to promote higher standards of sustainable design above current building regulations. 3.2 The Code measures sustainability of new homes against nine categories of sustainable design, rating the whole home as a complete package. It uses a 6 star rating system and sets minimum standards for energy and water use. The Code is not a regulation and can only be required where it has been incorporated into a local plan (as in the case of Manchester) or the development relates to affordable housing, funded by the Homes and Community Agency. 4 BREEAM non residential development 57

4 4.1 Similarly BREEAM is a voluntary measurement rating for non-residential developments and is a tool, which sets standards for best practice in sustainable design. 4.2 As with the Code, it includes a two-stage assessment process; the first being at design stage and the second at post construction. It uses a scoring system (evidence based) and uses a broad range of categories and criteria to measure sustainability. This includes aspects relating to energy, water use, internal environment (health and well being), transport, materials, pollution, ecology, waste and management processes. 5.0 Negotiating sustainable design 5.1 Sustainability is firmly embedded in the planning process and is therefore always raised and negotiated at an early stage of development, particularly in pre application discussions. For a developer, as with all matters of design, it is far easier and is likely to be more cost effective if measures to improve sustainability are incorporated from the outset. 5.2 In addition and to assist consideration of this (and other issues) through the planning process, a Validation Checklist has been adopted which sets out the type of information required in order to make a planning application (from plans to supporting technical information). 5.3 The checklist was originally introduced by Manchester in 2007 and was one of the first authorities to do so. (Its use also predates such lists becoming a national requirement.) The basis for the checklist is to ensure that the information that is needed to properly consider a planning application is made available from the point of application receipt. It provides clarity for developers, allows for full and proper consultation and an in depth consideration of proposals, necessary if required outcomes are to be delivered. 5.4 The checklist, which is subject to consultation before adoption, reinforces the requirement for an environmental standards statement, including a BREEAM/Code for sustainable homes pre assessment rating on a wide range of applications. 5.5 The information provided by applicants allows officers to assess developments and where appropriate explore options to improve sustainability or balance an inability to achieve high levels of sustainability against other key objectives. 5.6 It is also standard practice to include a condition on the grant of planning permission setting out the required sustainability rating through the submission of a post construction assessment. Typically, the condition is worded along the lines of: The development hereby approved shall achieve a post construction Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method/BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Houses rating of XXX. A post construction review certificate shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the City Council as 58

5 local planning authority before any of the buildings hereby approved are first occupied. Appendix 1 includes copies of both a pre and post construction certificate. 6.0 Practical application of policy guidance 6.1 There are many examples of sustainable developments across the City. In some instances, the sustainability rating achieved has exceeded the minimum set out in the policy guidance. 6.2 Appendix 2 provides a small example of some of the developments that have successively achieved a higher standard and demonstrates the range of applications this is applied to. 6.3 However, in negotiating and assessing schemes, the local planning authority has, as always, to be mindful of all key outcomes, which the planning process is expected to deliver; this includes issues around viability, economic outputs, design quality etc. In addition, whilst a useful measuring tool, it is necessary to look beyond the rating itself achieved under the Code and BREEAM and establish the bigger picture and the overall benefits being derived from a development. 6.4 For example, there are schemes, which cannot be certified as achieving a rating under the code, however, they can either demonstrate the inclusion of some sustainable measures or are likely to deliver other strategic objectives. It is important that sustainability goes beyond simply achieving a BREEAM badge. 6.5 There are several examples of this and one such specific proposal involves new supported housing in the south of the City. The application for the development was approved and the expectation was that the scheme would achieve a Code for Sustainable Homes rating of level Whilst the proposal would receive 57 credits under the Code, enough to achieve a level 3 rating, a financial appraisal concluded that the inclusion of rainwater harvesting would be unsuitable. The omission of this one element would result in a zero-rating, as rainwater harvesting is a mandatory requirement of the surface water drainage strategy. All other mandatory credits were achievable. 6.7 The development was considered to be of strategic importance relating to the provision of supported housing where there was, at that time, an unmet need; as such it was considered this had to be balanced against any eventual Code rating. It was also recognised that with the exception of the rainwater harvesting, the scheme met level 3 requirements. 6.8 Similar situations have arisen on some housing association schemes. The overriding objective of such schemes has been to deliver affordable family homes across the City, but it was also envisaged that they would achieve a 59

6 high sustainability rating. This was typified by a scheme providing 65 new residential units on Great Western Street in Moss Side. The Code pre assessment achieved a Code level 3 rating and this was incorporated into a condition of the planning permission. 6.9 As the development programme progressed the cost of including rainwater harvesting was found to be around 175,000, with an additional cost of 900 per year per property for maintenance. The cost to residents would be per week, compared to 7.76 per week without the system. Given that the scheme was to develop a neighbourhood of affordable housing, there was a genuine concern that the cost, not only impacting on the viability of the scheme itself could not be passed onto future occupiers With the omission of the rainwater harvesting, the scheme would still achieve credits (as noted earlier 57 being required to meet level 3) but it simply could not be certified as Code 3 without the mandatory element As part of the request to review the condition, the applicants were able to demonstrate that the scheme would still incorporate many positive measures such as: Solar heating (a 14% reduction in energy use) Use of natural daylight which would be optimised and where this could not be used, innovative sun tubes would transfer light from roofs into internal spaces, Heating; band A high efficiency gas condensing boilers and boiler class 5 to reduce NOX emissions, Maximise the performance of thermal elements through high insulation levels (25% improvement over and above Building Regulations), Reducing air leakage, Careful use of materials, Reduce water use, and Through a waste management strategy The HCA as funder to the development acknowledged the issue and the measures highlighted above being proposed to address sustainable design. A position also accepted by the City Council A specific issue raised previously by Members was the use of non-permeable surfaces and drainage implications. As noted in 2.5, this is something that is assessed under BREEAM in relation to surface water credits. For certain types of applications, based on scale, size and location, (i.e. If within a critical drainage area or flood risk area), a Flood Risk Assessment will also be required as part of the planning process. Where issues of surface water run off are identified, a permeable surface treatment could be part of the mitigation measures proposed There are instances, however, where permeable surfaces may not be acceptable, for examples, if there is residual contamination on site, this would 60

7 not be an advisable solution. Alternative measures would in such cases have to be considered. 7.0 Conclusion 7.1 Negotiating and addressing sustainability matters is an integral part of the planning process in Manchester. This is supported by a policy framework which provides a robust platform to engage with developers and on a broad range of applications. 7.2 Whilst it may not always be possible for developments to achieve a high sustainability rating, officers will work with applicants to deliver financially viable solutions wherever possible. 61

8 Manchester City Council Appendix 1 - Item 8 Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee 16 October

9 Manchester City Council Appendix 1 - Item 8 Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee 16 October

10 Manchester City Council Appendix 2 Item 8 Examples of the types of development that have successively achieved a higher standard of BREEAM: 2007: Single detached dwelling house, Grenfell Road, Didsbury - Code for Sustainable Homes level : City Council development for New Academy and sixth form college Simonsway in Wythenshawe - BREEAM very good 2009: Mixed development, Etrop Court, Wythenshawe Town Centre BREEAM Very good for the office element and good for the retail. 2009: Student accommodation, former Arch Bar, Hulme, BREEAM very good 2009: 14 Storey office building (Cooperative Headquarters) with associated car parking; Miller Street, Ancoats Interim Certificate BREEAM outstanding. 2010: A1 retail store, Altrincham Road, Baguley - BREEAM very good. 2010: Various City Council applications for new dwellings; West Gorton, BREEAM Code Level 4 (with solar panels on the houses and air source heating pumps to apartments). 2011: New training facility, MCFA, East Manchester BREEAM excellent and LEED (an international assessment) Gold 2011: New Academic building and student accommodation (MMU), Birley Fields, Hulme, pre-estimate BREEAM rating excellent but with potential to achieve outstanding. 64

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