Webinar: Local Authorities Leading the Way – Net Zero Planning Policy


Good Homes Alliance (GHA) and Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) hosted a joint online event showcasing the progressive work of Local Authorities in developing, and successfully adopting, net zero planning policies.

We heard more about recent good news coming out of Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) and Cornwall Council, whose local plan updates have both been found sound and legally compliant by the Planning Inspectorate. Both policies set absolute energy targets for housing (energy use intensity) and seek to maximise renewable energy generation on-site. The policies use a different framework from the Building Regulations and cover both regulated and unregulated energy.

These announcements reaffirm the fact that forward-thinking councils can set their own ambitious targets that go above and beyond minimum national standards. The work at B&NES, Cornwall, Cambridgeshire and others will help set a precedent for other Local Authorities to follow in their footsteps and meet their climate emergency commitments.

We were also delighted to be joined by experts from the consultancies who have been supporting progressive councils in developing evidence bases to support their new policies, and providing guidance on how to implement the policies in practice.


Welcome from GHA – Lynne Sullivan OBE, Chair, Good Homes Alliance

Welcome from TCPA – Celia Davis, Projects and Policy Manager, Town and Country Planning Association

What is the landscape for LAs in regard to setting progressive planning policies? – Marina Goodyear, Project Manager/Lewis Knight, Head of Sustainable Places, Bioregional

Planning policies successfully adopted! Lessons learned from B&NES and Cornwall, and implementation challenges
– Alex McCann, former Climate Policy Officer at Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES); now part of the Bioregional Sustainable Places team
– Emily Rubin, Principal Development Officer, Cornwall Council

Emerging planning policy: Net zero, circular economy, design codes and more – Greater Cambridge – Emma Davies, Principal Sustainability Officer, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Next steps for local authorities: How can the recent good news set a precedent for other progressive LAs? And what are the challenges? – Thomas Lefevre, Director, Etude

Q&A/panel discussion: How will updates to national policy and standards impact progressive local authorities?

Watch the recording

Presentation downloads

Marina Goodyear and Lewis Knight, Bioregional

Alex McCann, Bioregional (formerly B&NES Council)

Emily Rubin, Cornwall Council

Emma Davies, Greater Cambridge Shared Planning

Thomas Lefevre, Etude

Join our Vanguard Network

The Good Homes Alliance Vanguard Network of Local Authorties is a leading edge group whoch resources and conduct further research to facilitate LAs with new housing delivery arms in adopting enhanced sustainability, quality, health and performance standards for new housing developments.

Click here to find out how to join



GHA Bitesize Webinar Series – Spatial implications of developing Zero Carbon Local Plans: Modelling the carbon from proposed growth

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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.


Cornwall Council – Climate Emergency Development Plan Document (DPD)

Cornwall Council submitted the Climate Emergency DPD for independent examination in November 2021. This was required under (Town and Country Planning) (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2012).

Planning Inspector: P Griffiths BSc (Hons) BArch IHBC acted on behalf of the Secretary of State. He has now completed his examination and has made his report. His report confirms that the plan is sound subject to his recommended modifications. You can view or download a copy of the CEDPD Inspectors Report. and the Schedule of Main Modifications.

The plan can now proceed to adoption. A report will be made to Cabinet on 8 February and Cornwall Council for adoption on 21 February 2023. When adopted the new policies will support planning decisions.

You can view or download a copy of the Climate Emergency DPD showing the required modifications. This includes minor editorial changes to support the modifications. 

The following document will be updated to reflect the Inspectors findings before adoption: 

Following examination the Council has issued a Schedule of Modifications.

If you would like to discuss this document you can contact the team by emailing:

by writing to: 
Climate Emergency DPD Team
Cornwall Council
New County Hall
Treyew Road,

About the Climate Emergency DPD

Cornwall declared a climate emergency in 2019. Recognising that all services across the Council would have a part to play. New planning policies are a step towards improving Cornwall’s housing and infrastructure. Helping to plan for a Cornwall that our children and grandchildren can live, work and thrive in.

These Planning Policies impact the way that places grow and change. They will help to protect and shape the future of Cornwall. They add detail to the Cornwall Local Plan (2016). They aim to help address climate change, by expanding on and replacing some Local Plan policies. The aim is to address the impacts of climate change, sitting alongside Government legislation.

These policies make development more sustainable and are flexible to keep up with changes in technology.

Download documents


GHA Bitesize Webinar Series – Why do we need Zero Carbon planning policies, and what are the powers that Local Authorities have to create them?

The fourth event in our Bitesize Webinar series.

Robust and targeted Local Plan policies are a necessary component of achieving net-zero emissions. GHA member Bioregional understand how to create the evidence base, and how to implement the policies in practice.

All local planning authorities have a legal duty to address the climate and ecological crisis and to contribute towards the UK’s legally binding net-zero target for 2050. In practice, this means taking bold steps to achieve zero emissions from new buildings and adopting policies that drive drastic and rapid emissions reductions from transport, energy and land-use.

As Local Plans set out the vision for future development in a borough, they are key to ensuring that any land-use changes, or new development that happens – from homes and offices to transport infrastructure – results in the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions possible, whilst enabling economic growth and addressing housing need.

The Good Homes Alliance was joined by Bioregional to discover why we need Zero Carbon planning policies and what are the powers that Local Authorities have to create them.


  • 12:00 Welcome from the GHA – Julian Brooks, Good Homes Alliance
  • 12:05 Why do we need Zero Carbon planning policies, and what are the powers that Local Authorities have to create them? – Lewis Knight, Head of Sustainable Places, Bioregional, and Marina Goodyear, Project Manager, Bioregional
  • 12:35 Q&A
  • 13:00 Close

Download presentation here


Good Homes 2020: Covid-19, Health & Well-being and the Green Recovery

Content available for Good Homes Alliance members only.

If you are already a GHA member, please Log In or Sign Up for an account. Check our Member Directory to see if you are a member.

Find out the benefits of membership and sign up as a GHA member to access this content.

If you have any queries, please contact


Good Homes 2020: Climate Emergency and Local Authority Action

Content available for Good Homes Alliance members only.

If you are already a GHA member, please Log In or Sign Up for an account. Check our Member Directory to see if you are a member.

Find out the benefits of membership and sign up as a GHA member to access this content.

If you have any queries, please contact


Re-thinking local

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the communities in which we live and work. The next six months have the potential to shape the direction of this country for years to come.

The challenges ahead are as great as those we faced during the pandemic. We need to rebuild our economy, get people back to work and create new hope in our communities. As we begin to look forward and rebuild, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just recover but to go even further – to address the stark inequalities the pandemic has exposed and that have been entrenched for too long; to connect with people’s identities and sense of community; to harness the energy and dynamism which have been the hallmarks of our response to this crisis; to rebuild the economy so that it benefits everyone.

This document sets out a series of offers to Government, alongside a set of asks and is the start of a process. A process to re-think our approach to these problems and a process that leads central government to re-think its view of us. We collectively need to re-think local and we hope this is the first step.

Now is the time for national government to grasp these opportunities and to lay the foundations for a future that is local.

Author: Local Government Association

Publication date: June 2020



Combined authorities – collaboration on housing and planning

This report looks at how combined authorities have used their powers, resources and partnerships to achieve enhanced outcomes in housing and planning and how they are working with their constituent authorities to deliver these.

By focusing on both major innovative approaches and projects, mainstream delivery programmes and smaller scale outcomes, the report recognises that whilst at different stage of development, combined authorities are still evolving. 1.2 The report focuses on specific case studies to illustrate innovation and delivery around the following themes:

  • Increasing supply through innovative funding and investment
  • Meeting housing need
  • Accelerating housing delivery by co-ordinating and creating sites
  • Alignment with the wider growth agenda
  • Addressing urban renewal through Mayoral Development Corporations
  • Excellence in quality and design
  • Advantages of capacity building, procurement, delivery and resource sharing.

Author: Local Government Association

Publication date: January 2020



Good Practice Guidance for Local Government

Who is this guide for?

This guide is designed for a wide range of officers working to implement adaptation within local government – whether that is a combined authority, district council, county council or unitary authority. This includes those responsible for adaptation planning, managing civil contingencies, and contributing to longer term planning, as well as those who want to make their services more resilient.

It is relevant both for organisations that are just starting out on adaptation planning, as well as for those who already work in adaptation, who are looking for new ways to move the agenda forward in their own area. It is also applicable to relevant stakeholders and partners who have a role in working alongside local authorities to progress adaptation in their local areas.

How to use this guide

This guide focuses on preparing for the impacts of climate change, a process known as climate change adaptation. It does not cover approaches to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, which are the drivers of climate change, often referred to as mitigation.

The guide is designed to assist local government with its work on climate change adaptation. You can use it to find out about the general business case for adapting to climate change, or why it matters in relation to key services and functions provided by local authorities. It also showcases techniques from around the country to provide inspiration for your own approaches.

How this guide was produced

The guide was developed by the LAAP with input from others including the Local Government Association, Core Cities, ADEPT, Defra and NHS England Sustainable Development Unit. It was then independently reviewed and developed by an adaptation specialist.

Author: ADEPT

Publication date: June 2019