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First successful nutrient neutrality planning application granted in Richmondshire

Specialist property consultancy George F. White has led and advised on the first major residential development addressing Nutrient Neutrality* to win planning approval in the district of Richmondshire, North Yorkshire.


Nutrient Neutrality hit the headlines last spring as it halted the development of thousands of new homes and projects in 72 local authorities across the UK, including those in North Yorkshire and County Durham. Planning applications came to a standstill following new advice from Natural England, requiring some development sites to demonstrate Nutrient Neutrality before planning consent is approved.


As a follow on, a Nutrient Mitigation Scheme was launched in the autumn to support the investment in new habitats to mitigate the impacts of nutrient pollution. The new initiative assists local planning authorities (LPA) to grant planning permission for development in areas with nutrient pollution issues.


In a milestone moment since the scheme came into force, the first planning application in the district of Richmondshire for major residential development involving a Nutrient Mitigation Scheme has won approval.


George F. White led the application for an area of farmland in Barton which has successfully received planning consent for 50 dwellings. There is already a lot of interest from developers in the land, which is in a prime area for new homes.


Elliot Taylor, Partner at George F. White, said: “Nutrient Neutrality is still very new and a complex issue for developers. It’s an area we’ve really committed to gaining expertise in to support our clients end to end, throughout the entire planning process. Many of our clients are rural landowners and developers who will now need to consider Nutrient Neutrality and we are here to help to deliver mitigation on the ground that meets these new requirements.


“North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas are key development pockets. We’re leading the way in the region in our approach to Nutrient Neutrality and are already seeing an increase in planning work requiring a mitigation strategy.”


Stephanie Linnell, Partner at George F. White, added: “We’re really pleased to have achieved this outcome for our client, opening up opportunities for them, including the sale of the land with planning consent. In this case, the strength and depth of knowledge and collaboration within our multi-service team allowed us to manage the whole process, successfully securing planning consent.”


George F. White’s team of rural consultants and planning experts work closely with landowners, developers, Natural England and LPA to find solutions surrounding Nutrient Neutrality, to establish a strategy for successful mitigation.

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L-R: Stephanie Linnell and Elliot Taylor

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*Additional info: The European Court of Justice landmark ruling known as the Dutch Nitrogen Case has forced Natural England to provide new advice to Local Planning Authorities (LPA) on the risks associated with land use change from development in nutrient vulnerable areas. 72 local authorities have been told by Natural England that they must ensure that new homes are now nutrient neutral. This can be an extremely complex issue for developers, however if a development is in an area that demands nutrient neutrality the developer must demonstrate that all surface water runoff and wastewater will be less or equal to the nutrients generated from the existing land use. Increased levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus can increase the growth of certain plants in freshwater habitats and estuaries causing harm to plant species and wildlife. Eutrophication, the excessive growth of algae from increased levels of nitrogen and phosphate, is becoming a growing problem for many freshwater habitats across the country. The sources of these nutrients are often specific to a particular geographic location and can include discharges from sewage treatment, domestic septic tanks, and outputs or run-off from farming and industrial activities. When a planning application is assessed by the LPA they must now consider if the proposal will have an adverse effect on the local habitat and its biodiversity. If harm from nutrient pollution cannot be ruled out, planning permission should be refused unless mitigation to reduce the impact to acceptable levels is put in place. Types of mitigation might include changes to the current use of land to mitigate the future nutrient impact or load. Certain uses, such as the creation of woodland or establishing permanent grassland can provide lower nutrient loads as well as offering additional benefits to the wider environment and increased levels of biodiversity.

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