BNES Local Plan Partial Update

Council adopts ground-breaking planning framework

Good Homes Alliance welcomes the announcement that Bath and North East Somerset has become the first council in England to successfully adopt an energy-based net zero housing policy as part of its commitment to tackling the climate emergency.

The new housing development policy will ensure the energy use of any proposed development is measured and meets a specified target — setting a limit on the total energy use and demand for space heating. It will also require sufficient on-site renewable energy generation to match the total energy consumption of the buildings — ensuring the development is 100% self-sufficient.

New policies will also address building emissions such as a policy to limit carbon emissions resulting from the materials used in the construction of large-scale developments. These ‘upfront’ embodied carbon emissions will be limited to 900kgCO2e/m2.

The council will also impose net zero operational carbon standards for new major non-residential development.

The ground-breaking move follows the approval at a special meeting of Council yesterday (January 19) where The Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU), which updates parts of the current Local Plan to better address council priorities including the climate and ecological emergencies, was adopted.

The Local Plan sets out the basis for decision making on development and the use of land that requires planning permission across B&NES. The adopted LPPU includes some changes, known as main modifications, that were suggested by an independent planning inspector to ensure the Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) would be sound and legally compliant. They were consulted on last year.

The LPPU includes specific policies that will secure net zero development, help facilitate the delivery of renewable energy installations of an appropriate scale in the most suitable locations and further encourage the shift towards more sustainable forms of transport.

It will also help to replenish housing supply, enabling the council to meet its housing requirement in a planned way and have greater control over speculative planning applications. In addition, the LPPU will help the council to better manage off-campus, purpose-built student accommodation schemes where they meet a demonstrable need.

Councillor Tim Ball, cabinet member for Planning and Licensing, said: “Adoption of the Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) ensures our policies are aligned with the latest national policy and put us at the forefront nationally with policies related to the climate and ecological emergencies. Bath & North East Somerset Council is the first Local Planning Authority (LPA) in England to have an adopted Local Plan policy requiring a net zero energy balance for new housing and we are the first in the West of England to adopt a biodiversity net gain (BNG) policy.”

The new Biodiversity Net Gain policy requires major developments to demonstrate a Biodiversity Net Gain of a minimum of 10% which is secured in perpetuity, for at least 30 years. Minor developments will only be permitted where no net loss and appropriate net gain of biodiversity is secured.

The council liaised with Cornwall Council and used their evidence base to support the new net zero construction policy. Their similar policy has been found sound by an inspector and will be considered for adoption in February. Similar policies are being progressed by Central Lincolnshire and GHA Leader member Greater Cambridge Shared Planning.

The recent adoption of the Sustainable Construction Checklist SPD provides the reporting framework to demonstrate compliance with the new sustainable construction policies and the council’s partnership with the University of Bath will help to evaluate implementation and industry response.

The policy is the first new housing policy to be net-zero aligned based on 2030 trajectories of industry-leading organisations such as the London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

More information on the LPPU can be found on the council website.

Click here to download key documents

To find out more about the Good Homes Alliance’s local authority Vanguard Network, click here.


Whats stopping councils from building more houses?

The CIH-NFA-ARCH survey had 22 detailed responses from  authorities ranging from five London boroughs to large cities in the Midlands and North and several medium and small authorities.

Although the numbers responding were limited, the replies throw considerable light both on local authorities’ new-build plans and on the opportunities and constraints they still face.

Author: Chartered Institute of Housing; National Federation of ALMOs; Association of Retained Council Housing

Publication date: January 2020



Innovation in council housebuilding

Council housebuilding must be at the centre of a renewed effort to deliver homes that generate growth and that communities need now and into the future. This new report shares examples of councils that are doing just that. The case studies of council housebuilding show how councils are opening up opportunities to build good quality homes that are designed to be accessible, affordable and energy efficient.

There is a wealth of information in this report about the context for council housebuilding, the broader picture of housing delivery led by councils and an analysis of the process councils have gone through to set up active building programmes. It is drawn from the direct experience of councils and their insights into setting up new building schemes. It is a complete and detailed study of delivering innovation in council housebuilding, presented here in sections so that councils can draw easily on the parts that are most relevant to them.

Case studies of innovative housebuilding projects are a core part of the report. Chapter eight provides ten case studies of council housebuilding programmes around the country. The report is both a complete study and individual sections of useful information and resources.

Author: Housing Quality Network

Publication date: August 2018



Delivering the renaissance in council-built homes: the rise of local housing companies

Local housing companies (LHCs) are independent arms-length commercial organisations wholly or partly owned by councils. They can develop, buy and manage properties within and outside of a local authority area. The homes LHCs provide sit outside of the local government housing financing system (Housing Revenue Account) and are not subject to the Housing Act and most of the social/affordable housing regulations.

Over the past few years the number of companies has increased among councils across the whole of England. This study of LHCs shows that the vast majority are engaged in the provision of affordable housing, as well as market housing for rent and sale.

Although the number of LHCs has risen dramatically, there have been few studies on their evolution or impact on meeting local housing needs. There is no official register or database of LHCs and few case studies. This report is an attempt to fill that information gap and better understand the extent to which LHCs are developing as alternative providers of affordable homes.

The research, including an on-line poll of councils, roundtable meetings and interviews with practitioners and experts, has attempted to document the emergence of LHCs, in all their shapes and forms.

Author: Paul Hackett, The Smith Institute

Publication date: October 2017



Building our homes, communities and future

At the Local Government Association Annual Conference in July 2016 the LGA published the preliminary findings from the commission. Since then they have sought to take forward solutions, they have been impressed and proud of the work underway in the sector, and encouraged by the initial response from the Government. The Autumn Statement’s confirmation of additional investment and flexibility for councils to help build affordable homes, and to invest in infrastructure linked to housing growth both reflect central asks from the preliminary findings.

This final report sets out further detail, and sets out some key asks in advance of the Housing White Paper. But it is not the end of their work. The LGA will continue to develop these ideas with the sector, building up the case for policy change where it is needed, and capturing and sharing innovations that will help councils in their efforts to meet housing need.

Author: Local Government Association

Publication date: December 2016