5.1 In recognition of the growing importance attached by Government and the general public to the quality, attractiveness and protection of the environment, this Plan gives particular weight to environmental considerations and the need for any new development to respect and contribute to the environment.
5.2 This is to be achieved through three strands of action: to conserve the higher quality features of the borough, ensuring that new development does not detract from the character or appearance of its surroundings and by the improvement of areas of poorer quality environment. The policies below seek to translate the general policies in Chapter 3 and in particular Policies G1, 12, 13, 26, and 27, into the local level in order to achieve the overall strategy for Bexley.
Metropolitan Green Belt
The boundary of the Metropolitan Green Belt in Bexley shall be as defined on the Proposals Map.
5.3 The boundary of the Green Belt was originally defined in the Initial Development Plan for Greater London. The Bexley Borough Plan later introduced minor amendments to the Green Belt boundary to reflect changes in the situation since the approval of the Initial Development Plan.
5.4 A detailed review of the boundary was carried out prior to the adoption of the UDP in 1996 and some revisions were considered necessary in order to make it more defensible and permanent in the long term. No further changes to the Green Belt boundary have been made in this partial review of the Plan.
Other than in very special circumstances, there will be a strong presumption against permitting the construction of new buildings inside the Metropolitan Green Belt for purposes other than:
- agriculture and forestry;
- essential facilities for:
- outdoor sport and outdoor recreation,
- cemeteries or
- other uses of land which preserve the openness of the Green Belt and which do not conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt; or
- the limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings (subject to Policies ENV5-ENV7 below).
Other development will be regarded as inappropriate inside the Green Belt and, therefore, not in accordance with this plan, unless it maintains openness and does not conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt
5.5 Policy G12 indicates that the Council will protect and seek to enhance land identified as Metropolitan Green Belt on the Proposals Map. The reasoned justification to Policy G12 sets out the purposes of including land within the designation.
5.6 In accordance with PPG2, there is a general presumption against inappropriate development. Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt. PPG2 sets out which kinds of development are inappropriate inside the Green Belt. Any such development will be treated as a departure from this Plan and referred to the Secretary of State under the Town and Country Planning (Development Plans and Consultation) Direction 1992.
5.7 Policy ENV2 identifies the nature of the new buildings that are generally compatible with the character and appearance of, and therefore appropriate within, the Green Belt. Within the terms of Policy ENV2, essential facilities for a limited number of uses, which will generally preserve the open nature of the land, may be acceptable. Examples of such development include small changing rooms or unobtrusive spectator accommodation for outdoor sports. Whilst the limited extension, alteration or replacement of existing dwellings in the Green Belt may be appropriate, such proposals will be strictly controlled in order to protect and enhance it. Policies ENV5-7 specifically address the control of this form of development. In accordance with the advice in PPG2, all other new buildings inside the Green Belt will be regarded as inappropriate, unless they are essential to uses of land in the Green Belt, preserve its openness and do not conflict with the purposes of including land in it.
5.8 For the purposes of Policy ENV3 "other development" includes engineering and other operations and the making of any material change in the use of land. PPG2 provides that such development is also to be regarded as inappropriate development, unless it maintains the openness and is not in conflict with the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.
Proposals for development within the Metropolitan Green Belt which accord with Policy G12 must, in addition, comply with the following criteria:
- the proposed development should not detract from the function and appearance of the Green Belt;
- any buildings or structures should be appropriate in bulk and appearance to the open nature of the Green Belt, and their materials should be sympathetic to the landscape;
- wherever possible, new building should be carefully sited in relation to existing buildings on or near the site;
- the proposed development should retain sufficient space around the building, within the site, to maintain the contribution the site makes to the character of the Green Belt by virtue of its open and spacious nature;
- a high standard of landscaping and design will be required, reflecting the character of the surrounding area; and
- habitats and features of landscape or nature conservation importance will be protected.
5.9 Whilst a particular land use might be acceptable in principle in the Green Belt, there is still a need to ensure that new development associated with that use does not detract from its function, appearance and open character. Generally, ancillary buildings essential for the functioning of acceptable land uses within the Green Belt should be of the minimum size to serve the main use. For the purposes of this policy the term 'predominantly open air' is used to describe a situation where a particular area of land is almost exclusively in open use and where any associated built development is ancillary to that open use. Ancillary buildings must be essential for the functioning of the main open use and applicants will need to justify the siting of any new built development on open land rather than within the existing development area.
Replacements of existing permanent dwellings in the Metropolitan Green Belt will be considered on their merits, but complete rebuilding of existing dwellings will be unacceptable where the number of individual dwelling units is increased, or where the increase in living accommodation exceeds the cubic capacity of the original dwelling to the detriment of the openness of the Green Belt or the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.
Alterations and additions to existing dwellings in the Metropolitan Green Belt will be considered on their merits but any increase in living accommodation, beyond permitted development rights will not be allowed where this is detrimental to the openness of the Green Belt or the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.
Sub‑division of existing dwellings to increase the number of individual dwelling units will be unacceptable where this is detrimental to the openness of the Green Belt or the purposes of including land in the Green Belt.
5.10 In order to protect the function of the Green Belt it is essential to retain the existing open character of the area. Whilst there is a general presumption against new housing development in the Green Belt, the Council also wishes to ensure that there is no significant intensification of existing residential uses. Each application will also be subject to the considerations contained in Policy ENV4.
The reuse of buildings in the Green Belt may be appropriate provided that:
- it does not have a materially greater impact than the present use on the openness of the Green Belt or the purposes of including land in the Green Belt;
- any extension or reused buildings and associated uses of land surrounding the building preserve the openness of the Green Belt and the purposes of including land in the Green Belt (for example external storage, hard standing, car parking, boundary walling or fencing);
- the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction and are capable of conversion without major or complete reconstruction; and
- the form, bulk and general design of the buildings are in keeping with their surroundings.
5.11 Applications are received from time to time for the reuse of buildings in the Green Belt. In determining such applications the main consideration will be the effect of development on the openness and function of the Green Belt. Strict control will be exercised to ensure that the openness of the Green Belt is preserved. In respect of applications for the reuse and/or conversion of agricultural buildings, the Council will have regard to the advice given in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 "The Countryside, Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development" and other Green Belt policies.
The Council will oppose any form of development which will cause a loss of productive, or potentially productive, agricultural land classified as Grade 1 or 2 or 3a land, as defined by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), or which reduces the viability of farm holdings.
5.12 While recognising the continuing need to protect the countryside for its own sake, the Council also recognises the need to protect higher quality agricultural land from development. In protecting the best and most versatile land the Council will have regard to the DEFRA's Agricultural Land Classification system. Strategic Guidance for London indicates that boroughs should, in line with PPG7, protect high quality agricultural land from development, recognising it as a national resource for the long term.
The Council will encourage recreational uses of a predominantly open nature to locate in suitable parts of the Metropolitan Green Belt. Special consideration will be given to open-air recreational proposals, which would result in the improvement of under‑used or damaged land.
5.13 The positive role of the Green Belt in providing access to the countryside and other recreational facilities is highlighted in RPG 3 and recent Planning Policy Guidance. In order to fulfil this important function, the Council wishes to encourage open‑air recreational uses in the Green Belt particularly where this involves the improvement of under‑used or damaged land. The development of recreational facilities should not be to the detriment of the character, appearance or ecological value of the Green Belt. Recreational facilities must not conflict with other policies applying in the Green Belt.
The Council will oppose residential development in the Metropolitan Green Belt, except in the case of a dwelling for an agricultural worker, which may be permitted if all the following criteria are satisfied:
- the holding is commercially viable;
- it can be demonstrated that the agricultural worker must be resident on the holding and there is not suitable alternative accommodation available in the locality; and
- the development meets the criteria set out in Policy ENV4.
5.14 In accordance with national guidelines, there is a general presumption against residential development in the Green Belt. However, circumstances may arise in which a new residential unit is required in connection with an agricultural use, i.e. to house an agricultural worker who must live on site. The Council will apply the criteria contained in Policy ENV4 in considering such applications, to ensure that the impact of agricultural dwellings in the Green Belt is minimised and they are only permitted where it is essential to do so.
5.15 Where it can be shown that a new residential unit is justified on this basis, the Council will attach conditions to any permission, or enter into legal agreements, to ensure it is occupied by persons employed in the operation on which the development was justified.
Garden centres and farm shops will be acceptable in principle in the Metropolitan Green Belt only where:
- a local need can be demonstrated;
- the major proportion of merchandise is produced on site;
- they are of a scale and character which blends in with the surrounding landscape; and
- there is no detrimental impact on areas or features of nature conservation importance.
5.16 Farm shops are sometimes necessary to the continued economic viability of an agricultural holding. It is not the Council's general practice to allow the establishment of retail uses in the Green Belt. Garden centres and farm shops may, however, be acceptable if they help to support a horticultural or agricultural enterprise accounting for the main part of the site on which the garden centre or farm shop is situated and producing the major proportion of the merchandise. The purpose of these restrictions is to ensure that the Green Belt is kept free from intensive forms of retail use more appropriately located in built‑up areas.
The Council will seek to protect the visual amenities of the Green Belt by opposing proposals for development that are conspicuous from the Green Belt and which are visually detrimental by reason of their siting, materials or design.
5.17 Although development might not be sited in the Green Belt, it can nevertheless have detrimental effects on the Green Belt, particularly where it is proposed near the boundary. The height, massing, elevational treatment and materials of such developments will be particularly important in this respect.
Metropolitan Open Land
The boundaries of Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) in Bexley shall be as defined on the Proposals Map.
Within Metropolitan Open Land, there will be a presumption against permitting the construction of new buildings, or the change of use of land or buildings for purposes other than:
- agriculture and forestry;
- predominantly open air recreation;
- nature conservation;
- educational and institutional uses in extensive grounds;
- cemeteries; or
- other uses which would maintain the open character or visual amenities of Metropolitan Open Land.
5.18 Policy G13 indicates that the Council will protect and seek to enhance all land defined as Metropolitan Open Land on the Proposals Map. In accordance with RPG3, the presumption against development in the Green Belt (as set out in PPG2) applies equally to Metropolitan Open Land. Approval will not be given for land uses other than those listed above, which are considered to be compatible with the character and function of Metropolitan Open Land.
5.19 The uses listed in Policy ENV15 are considered to be appropriate within the Metropolitan Open Land so as not to compromise its open nature. The Council will normally allow development of Thames Water Utilities Limited operational land at Crossness where this is a necessary part of its functions as a statutory undertaker and which would result in environmental improvement. The Council will seek to ensure that any development is designed to minimise the impact on the open character of the land and incorporate landscaping works where appropriate.
5.20 The boundaries of Metropolitan Open Land as defined in the Bexley Borough Plan were reviewed prior to the adoption of the UDP in 1996. As a result, some changes were made. No further changes have been made in this partial review of the Plan.
The Council will seek to enhance recreational opportunities and take appropriate action in areas shown as Metropolitan Open Land to conserve and enhance the landscape, promote nature conservation, and secure suitable screening and landscaping for built development.
5.21 In addition to the need to restrict development in Metropolitan Open Land, the Council also recognises the need to promote its positive recreational use, public access and landscape and nature conservation value in order that the maximum benefit is derived from this valuable resource. The positive use of Metropolitan Open Land is the most effective way of securing its long-term preservation.
South East London Green Chain
The Council will protect land that forms part of the South East London Green Chain as defined on the Proposals Map and promote it as a recreational resource and visual amenity in conjunction with other parts of the Green Chain in southeast London.
Subject to Policy ENV17 above, the Council will take appropriate action in the Green Chain to conserve and enhance the landscape, to promote nature conservation and to ensure suitable screening and landscaping for built development.
5.22 Strategic Guidance recognises the valuable role green chains serve in the urban environment by providing extended pathways for the public and wildlife corridors, in natural surroundings. Boroughs are urged to consider this role, consulting with neighbouring authorities as appropriate. The South East London Green Chain, as shown on the Proposals Map, forms part of a virtually continuous arc of public and private open spaces, largely in recreational use, that extends through the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich and Lewisham. These boroughs have adopted a number of objectives relating to this Green Chain, which are as follows:
- to improve and encourage the provision of suitable recreational facilities, with an emphasis on those serving a wide area of south east London and/or requiring open land;
- to safeguard the open land from built development and maintain its structural contribution in providing a visual break in the built up area of London;
- to conserve and enhance the visual amenity and ecological aspects of the landscape;
- to improve public access to and through the area;
- to promote an overall identity for the area in order to increase public awareness of available recreational facilities; and
- to encourage the collaboration and co‑operation of the various public and private agencies, owners, organisations, clubs, etc. in the area to achieve the above objectives.
Other open spaces
5.23 Strategic Guidance acknowledges that open spaces, other than Metropolitan Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land, will often be a valuable amenity to an area, be part of the urban structure and provide breaks in the built‑up area. It is left to individual boroughs to decide the appropriate provision of local open space and to identify and make proposals in the UDP for such spaces. In addition, Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 on Sport and Recreation attaches great importance to the retention of adequate recreational open space in urban areas. Within the urban context, playing fields, whether owned publicly or privately, are of special significance. When not required for their original purpose they may be able to meet the growing need for recreational land in the wider community.
5.24 The following policy sets out the Council's approach to determining proposals for land use change affecting open land other than that covered by the Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land notations.
The Council will seek to retain land defined as urban open space on the Proposals Map for uses that would retain the open appearance of the land, such as:
- predominantly open air recreation, leisure, tourism or sport
- allotments and nursery gardens
- nature conservation
- educational or community uses in large grounds
except where all of the following criteria are satisfied:
- there is adequate provision of public open space within the area in which the site is situated (as defined by Policy TAL5);
- need cannot be identified for its use for open air recreation, leisure or sport or other appropriate use of open land;
- the land has no significant or important visual amenity value as a landscape feature in providing attractive breaks in the built‑up area;
- distinctive features of the open land, such as mature trees and woodland, are preserved as part of any development of the site; and
- there is no conflict with any other policies in this Plan.
5.25 Open land is important to the borough in terms of its contribution to the landscape and in providing attractive breaks in the built‑up area. It is also important because it accommodates a wide range of open-air recreational, leisure, educational, institutional and other uses within easy reach of residential areas. Once open land is built on it is lost forever. Where open land is no longer needed for its current or former use the Council will favour alternative uses that would retain the generally open appearance of the land, such as those identified in Policy ENV19.
5.26 At the same time the Council recognises that some open spaces will have little importance as a visual amenity within an area and, when they become surplus to requirements in their present use, there may be no identifiable need for an alternative use that would retain it as open land. In these circumstances, the Council considers it important that a beneficial alternative use of the land is considered that avoids the land falling into disuse and dereliction. The criteria in Policy ENV19 are a checklist of the matters that will be taken into account when determining proposals for development affecting urban open space and should ensure that other open space needs within an area are met and special landscape features are preserved before development is allowed to take place. In exceptional cases, a change from a recreational use may be allowed where these criteria are not fully satisfied, provided suitable alternative recreational provision is to be made either for new or replacement facilities or the enhancement of existing recreational facilities.
Surplus operational land
Should land designated as educational buildings and playing fields on the Proposals Map become surplus to longer term operational requirements, planning proposals for the future use of that land will be assessed against the following criteria:
- the need to relieve any deficiencies in the provision of public open space within the area (as defined by Policy TAL5);
- requirements for its use during the plan period for open air recreation, leisure or sport or other appropriate use of open land should be considered and land safeguarded where a need is identified;
- the need to meet other land use requirements during the plan period in accordance with policies in the plan subject to the need to maintain and enhance the high quality of the environment;
- the significance of the land in providing attractive breaks in the built‑up area; and
- the need to preserve distinctive landscape features of the open land, such as mature trees and woodland, as part of any development of the site;
- provided the future use does not conflict with policies in this plan for the Metropolitan Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land or any other relevant policy.
The Council will keep under review the demand for and supply of allotments and rationalise the use of sites where there is a continuing lack of demand or replace them in more suitable locations. In the event of land becoming surplus to requirements as allotments, the Council will assess proposals for its alternative use against the criteria set out in Policy ENV20 when making planning decisions on the future use of that land.
5.27 As a public authority and a major landowner in the borough, the Council has a duty to keep its landholdings under review and to dispose of land not needed for operational purposes or other statutory requirements. It is anticipated that, with changing school rolls, the need to achieve economies in future running costs and changes in the demand for allotments, some allotment and education land could become available for other uses. Policies ENV20 and ENV21 make special provision for this. In the event of land becoming surplus to operational requirements, the Council will prepare a planning brief to consider alternative uses of the land taking into account the adequacy of public open space in the area and other potential uses in accordance with the policies in this Plan as well as the importance of the land as a landscape feature. The planning brief would be subject to public consultation before the Council decides on the future use of that land.
5.28 Criterion 4 of Policy ENV20 will be relevant when the whole or a major part of a school site is being considered for redevelopment. Because of their size, school sites are often valuable amenities and provide definition and relief to the built‑up area. Trees can also make a significant contribution to the street scene and character of an area and help to soften the appearance of new buildings. Criterion 5, therefore, seeks their retention, together with other distinctive site features. Account will also be taken of the requirements of PPG17 Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (2002).
The Council will protect the individual quality and character of and promote access to the areas of heritage land as indicated on the Proposals Map.
5.29 Heritage land comprises primarily open areas of land of particular strategic importance to London, being a combination of areas of nature conservation, high landscape quality and historic importance, often including opportunities for outdoor recreation. The quality and character of these areas are deserving of protection and enhancement, both for local residents and visitors.
5.30 The Thames Estuary marshes provide views of the tidal Thames from the sea walls, relics of low‑lying grazing marsh dissected by a network of drainage dykes, and the vast, flat, treeless grassland landscape of the Thames‑side marshes.
5.31 Shooters Hill Ridge offers wood‑clad high ground at Shooters Hill and Lesnes Abbey, historic parks and gardens at Eltham Palace and remains of a 12th Century Augustinian Abbey at Lesnes. The area is also characterised by large tracts of ancient oak woodland, surviving remnants of the once extensive southeast London heathlands, open grassland and secondary woodland.
5.32 The Cray Valley is characterised by attractive valley landscape along the River Cray where networks of lanes, copses and rolling hills provide a good example of traditional Kent countryside. There are also ornamental grounds at Hall Place and Foots Cray Meadows.
The Council will resist development, including changes of use, which would damage or destroy habitats in any statutory local nature reserve or in the following Areas of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation:
- Crayford Marshes;
- Erith Marshes;
- the River Thames, including its banks, foreshore and tidal creeks;
- Lesnes Abbey Woods;
- Joydens Wood / Chalk Wood and Gattons Plantation; and
- the River Cray and adjacent lands at Foots Cray Meadows, Hales Field, land to the east of Bexley recreation ground, Crayford Rough and Barnes Cray Pastures;
as shown on the Proposals Map.
5.33 Strategic Guidance requires London boroughs to have regard to the national policies on nature conservation contained in PPG9 "Nature Conservation" (ct.94) and to include in UDPs land‑use policies on nature conservation.
5.34 Policy ENV23 is intended to ensure that the borough's most valuable and sensitive sites for nature conservation, which may contain scarce or irreplaceable habitats, are protected from damage or destruction due to the effects of development and land‑use change whilst the impacts on sites of lesser importance are kept to a minimum. Areas of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (AMINC) are of the highest priority for protection. They contain the best examples of each major habitat type in London or contain an especially varied or rare fauna or flora, or are otherwise of particular importance for wildlife and its enjoyment from a London‑wide perspective. It is not the Council's intention by this policy to prevent any development within AMINCs. In some circumstances, particularly along the industrial riverside, this would be inappropriate. The policy indicates that nature conservation will be a prime consideration in the determination of planning applications and the need to protect valuable wildlife habitats will be given due consideration. Where necessary, further ecological advice will be sought on the impact of proposed developments on the ecology of the River Thames.
5.35 The areas listed in Policy ENV23 above have been identified by the London Ecology Unit as of importance to London as a whole. A wildlife survey of the borough has been carried out and the list has been reviewed in the light of its results. A description of the areas covered by Policy ENV23 is set out in Appendix C.
In the Sites of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation, defined on the Proposals Map and listed at Appendix C, the Council will have particular regard to the effects of development on wildlife habitats, or the need to protect rare species. Planning permission may be refused if development is likely to cause the loss of a valuable habitat or conditions will be used, where appropriate, to protect, enhance, create or restore habitats.
5.36 Appendix C contains a list of sites, which have been identified as being of borough importance for nature conservation. Although these are of less regional importance than those listed in Policy ENV23, they are nevertheless important habitats at borough level and may contain ancient semi‑natural habitats or particular species with a limited distribution either nationally or within London. The effects of development on these areas will need to be considered in determining planning applications. The list of sites identified in Appendix C is not intended to exclude other sites from consideration and will be periodically reviewed and updated in relation to both habitats and species present.
In Sites of Local Importance for Nature Conservation, defined on the Proposals Map and listed in Appendix C, the Council will have regard to the effects of development on wildlife habitats. Conditions may be used, where appropriate, to protect, enhance, create or restore habitats.
5.37 A Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation is one, which is or may be, of particular value to nearby residents or schools. Some of these sites may already be used by schools for nature study. Local sites are particularly important in areas otherwise deficient in wildlife sites.
The Council will seek to enhance the value of linear routes in the borough, such as railways, riverside footpaths, Strategic Roads and the Green Chain Walk, for nature conservation, amenity or landscape interest.
5.38 The Council recognises the importance of maintaining a network of open space to assist animals and plants to thrive in the developed parts of the borough, conserve and enhance valuable landscape and amenity features and relieve the journey of commuters by providing a green view from their route through the built environment. The margins of linear routes, such as way-marked footpaths, railways and, in Bexley, the A2 and A20 Strategic Roads, constitute green corridors leading through the built‑up area and may link to each other and to Metropolitan Green Belt or Metropolitan Open Land. The Secretary of State's Strategic Planning Guidance for London refers to the value of such land as wildlife corridors.
The Council will encourage the creation of other sites for nature conservation where appropriate, particularly in areas deficient in sites of nature conservation importance.
5.39 In addition to protecting established sites for nature conservation it is important to identify and fill gaps or missing links in the network of wildlife habitats. The Council has gone some way towards this through its School Ecology Areas Project. There is scope to promote habitat creation within housing developments, around industrial uses, and other locations for the benefit of people using them, and to foster the wildlife network. Derelict land or vacant sites awaiting development can offer opportunities for the creation of new wildlife habitats. Habitats identified within the Bexley Biodiversity Action Plan will be considered as a priority for any habitat creation schemes.
The Council will declare and manage as Local Nature Reserves (LNR) sites in which it has a legal interest, that are of special importance to the local community for wildlife and nature conservation. Within these areas development will be resisted that would endanger the preservation of those special characteristics that lead to designation.
5.40 The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 contains powers for local authorities, in consultation with English Nature, to declare Local Nature Reserves. The Council recognises the contribution Local Nature Reserves make to nature conservation and the opportunities for the public to see, learn about and enjoy the flora and fauna of the borough. Four Local Nature Reserves have been declared since the adoption of the UDP in 1996 (see Appendix B) and opportunities will be sought to declare further ones where appropriate.
The Council will, in consultation with appropriate organisations and subject to the availability of resources, prepare, implement and monitor a wildlife strategy for the borough.
5.41 The Council recognises the widespread interest in wildlife, and the valuable resource that an areas species and habitats can hold. Pursuant to this policy, the Council, in consultation with relevant organisations, has prepared and adopted the Bexley Biodiversity Action Plan. The Council considers the BBAP as representing a practitioners guide and will treat it as a working document that can be easily updated, identifying habitats and species in the borough that are of national, regional and local importance and as a plan of action for their conservation. It will be a consideration in planning decisions affecting the natural and semi-natural environment, and the Council will take it into account as a material planning consideration in respect of proposals contained in planning applications that have a significant impact on biodiversity.
The Council will, in consultation with appropriate organisations, including the local Groundwork Trust, review and extend countryside management schemes in order to preserve and enhance the accessibility, landscape, nature conservation and environmental qualities of open spaces within the borough, including woodlands and water courses.
5.42 Bexley has participated in the North West Kent Countryside Project for a number of years and this countryside management scheme has enabled various sites in the borough to be significantly improved. Countryside management schemes have been used in this and other boroughs to enhance both the wildlife and amenity value of sites by improving under-managed woodlands, stagnating ponds, deteriorating hedgerows, poorly maintained footpaths and fencing in countryside areas. The Council wishes to ensure that the successes achieved through such schemes are sustained. It will work in association with Groundwork Trust Thames Gateway London South and other organisations such as the management board of the Crossness Nature Reserve to secure this.
The Council will seek to conserve and enhance the landscape by the encouragement of natural vegetation and wildlife.
5.43 The protection of the appearance of open land and of the natural flora and fauna should be mutually beneficial, and the Council will aim to achieve both objectives in a co‑ordinated fashion.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Development will not be permitted within Sites of Special Scientific Interest as indicated on the Proposals Map, and which may be notified from time to time by English Nature, unless it can be shown that there would be no damage to scientific or nature conservation interests.
Development of land adjoining Sites of Special Scientific Interest will be resisted unless it can be shown that there would be no damage to scientific or nature conservation interests.
5.44 Sites of Special Scientific Interest are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 because they contain features of special interest by reason of any of their flora, fauna, geology or physiography. They are important because these features are rare and irreplaceable or are representative examples of their type. It is the Government's policy to ensure, as far as possible, that these sites are protected from damage or destruction, and conserved by appropriate management. Part of Lesnes Abbey Woods, Belvedere and Wansunt Pit, Bexley are designated Geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The Council will, resources permitting, prepare and implement a Trees and Woodlands Strategy and a Parks Strategy.
5.45 In recent years there has been an increasing awareness, both politically and publicly, of trees in the environment and the benefits they provide. The Government acknowledged this when it set up Task Force Trees, a special unit of the Countryside Commission.
5.46 Since 1993, this awareness has gained additional momentum from many initiatives such as the Task Force Trees "Survey and Action Plan of London's Trees" and a research report, "Trees in Towns", published by the Department of Environment. A principal conclusion of the "Trees in Towns report was the need for local authorities to examine the tree stock within its boundary, both public and private and formulate a long-term strategy for the maintenance of existing trees, their replacement and the planting of new trees.
5.47 The Council adopted a Trees and Woodlands Strategy in 1998 which coordinates action to secure the well being of the boroughs trees. The strategy is an integral element of the Councils environmental agenda and will contribute to the objectives of sustainable development and biodiversity.
5.48 The Bexley Parks Strategy, adopted in 1999, is a statement of aims, objectives and key issues relating to the boroughs parks and open spaces. The strategy seeks to plan, develop and promote, diverse and balanced leisure uses, maximise benefits to park users within available resources and take account of the sustainable needs of the environment and wider community. Action Plans covering these matters are included in Bexleys Biodiversity Action Plan.
The Council will seek the protection and long term retention of trees of amenity, nature or landscape conservation value on development sites or elsewhere where they might be at risk and, in appropriate cases, will require new tree and hedge planting as part of a landscaping scheme for development proposals.
The Council will serve Tree Preservation Orders on significant trees where development pressures present abnormal risks or where the presence of trees as a group makes an important contribution to the character of the surrounding area.
5.49 Trees make a major contribution to the borough's appearance. They relieve the general conformity of large suburban areas and soften the harsh appearance of modern building lines. They may also be important to the ecology of an area. The Council therefore places a high priority on their protection. When development is proposed on a site containing trees of significance, it will be necessary to negotiate the layout to ensure that unless it has suitably designed foundations, no building is too close to a tree considered worthy of retention. Where possible, the Council will encourage the planting of species native to an area. Native species have a higher ecological value than non‑native species and blend well into the landscape.
The Council will resist proposals for the keeping of horses and development associated with the keeping or grazing of horses unless all of the following criteria are met:
- there is no detrimental effect on landscape quality or appearance;
- there are adequate proposals for the management of grazing areas;
- proposals for the keeping or stabling of riding horses provide satisfactory access to bridleways or suitable riding facilities (e.g. a large paddock) which does not need to involve riding along footpaths or roads other than local roads;
- the proposal does not cause an adverse effect to neighbouring occupiers by reason of smell, noise or appearance;
- access to the site does not impair highway safety and adequate parking and turning arrangements are provided within the site;
- suitable fencing, both within and around the site, is provided;
- the proposal does not conflict with other policies, in particular those relating to the Metropolitan Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land; and
- agricultural land quality and wildlife diversity will be maintained.
5.50 In recent years there has been a steady increase in the demand for horse‑riding and it appears that this will continue. In particular, certain parts of the borough, for example North Cray, experience considerable pressure from such activity. While recognising that this is a popular recreational activity, the Council wishes to ensure that development associated with it does not detract from its location or surrounding area. The approach is thus to divert pressure away from over‑used facilities.
5.51 The use of land primarily for the grazing of horses is accepted as being an agricultural activity and as such is not development as defined by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and therefore does not require planning permission. However, where the grazing area is inadequate and horses require supplementary feeding, in addition to that normally required in winter, the primary use of the land is keeping horses, which requires planning permission. The British Horse Society recommends that 0.4 hectare (1 acre) of well-managed grassland is required to provide adequate grazing for each horse in a manner consistent with good agricultural and management practice. However, where the pasture is not of the best quality, it is better to provide 0.6 or 0.8 hectare (1.5 or 2 acres) per animal. The Council will have regard to this standard when considering whether particular proposals require planning permission.
In order to protect and enhance the quality of the built environment, the Council will seek to ensure that all new developments, including alterations and extensions, changes of use and other operations, including highway improvements, are satisfactorily located and are of a high standard of design and layout. In determining applications for development the Council will consider the extent to which the proposal:
- is compatible with the character of the surrounding area, would not prejudice the environment of the occupiers of adjacent property, or adversely affect the street scene by reason of its (a) scale, (b) massing, (c) height, (d) layout, (e) elevational treatment, (f) materials and/or (g) intensity of development;
- is appropriately landscaped, including the retention of appropriate trees and shrubs and the incorporation of public art where relevant;
- has any unreasonable effect on the surrounding area by reason of noise and any emissions to land, air, or water, and is not, by reason of its location, itself adversely affected by such conditions as may already be in existence within the neighbourhood;
- makes adequate provision for vehicle parking in accordance with the Council's vehicle parking standards;
- takes due account of the need to deter crime, both against individuals and against public or private property whilst maintaining an attractive environment; and
- takes into consideration important local and strategic views, particularly where the proposed development is one which significantly exceeds the height of its surroundings or is located on a prominent skyline ridge.
5.52 The London Borough of Bexley is fortunate in having a high quality environment and the Council recognises the need to protect and enhance this environmental quality. This policy, which applies mainly to non‑residential development, seeks to ensure that new development is compatible with, and appropriate to, its surroundings and that it does not detract from the environmental quality of an area. In addition, the impact of a structure on the local and strategic views in an area should be considered together with the character of its surroundings. In applying Policy ENV39 to individual proposals, the Council will have regard to the advice of LPAC on important views and skylines contained in its report, "London's Skylines and High Buildings" published in March 1989. Good design in individual development schemes can make an important contribution to upgrading the overall environmental quality. The retention of trees and shrubs, which may have taken many years to mature, and the planting of new trees and shrubs, especially of native species, can help to soften the harsh lines of new built development and add interest to the design. The inclusion of public works of art can also serve to enhance individual developments as well as being of benefit to the townscape (see Policy TAL22). Specific requirements for residential developments are set out in Chapter 6 and in the Design and Development Control Guidelines.
In accordance with policies G34 and ENV39, the Council will require applicants to survey sites that are known or suspected to be contaminated to determine the source of any pollutants and any remedial measures necessary to prevent these causing hazards either during construction or through subsequent use of the site.
The Council may require applicants to enter into an appropriate legal agreement to ensure that the necessary remedial measures are made.
The Council will have regard to national and local Air Quality Strategies in seeking to ensure that proposals for development do not compromise air quality objectives. The Council will require an applicant to prepare an Air Quality Assessment where proposals:
- include industrial activities with potentially significant air borne emissions;
- have the potential to increase significantly the volume of traffic flows or the ratio of heavy goods vehicles, or the level of congestion so as to place air quality objectives at risk;
- have the potential to increase the personal exposure of individuals at non-occupational locations to levels of air pollution which are likely to exceed objectives set in either national or local Air Quality Strategies; and/or
- are located in (or are likely to effect) an Air Quality Management Area, which would significantly change the pattern of traffic flows or could lead to emissions of one or more of the pollutants specified in the national Air Quality Strategy.
The Council may resist or impose conditions on applications where an air quality assessment shows that the proposed development will have an adverse effect on the achievement of national or local air quality objectives.
5.53 The Environment Act 1995 requires the Secretary of State to prepare a National Air Quality Strategy to address the management of ambient air quality. The Act also requires the Council to review and assess local air quality and publish its findings.
5.54 From the review and assessment, action plans will be developed aimed at achieving air quality objectives at the local level. Local Air Quality Management Areas shall be designated where it is anticipated that future air quality falls short of the objectives set out in the National Air Quality Regulations.
5.55 Air quality assessments should include the following:
- description of site and location;
- assessment of existing local air quality;
- description of the assessment methodology where dispersion modelling is undertaken;
- details of the atmospheric pollutants emitted, quantities and the nature of their source
- results of any modelling exercise and comparison with objectives specified in Air Quality Regulations; and
- assessment of the interaction of the proposal with other air pollutant sources in the area.
The needs of people with disabilities
The Council will seek to ensure that all applications for the conversion of existing buildings or premises and the construction of new buildings or premises or the laying out of external areas, to which the public will have access or in which people will be employed, shall make adequate provision for the needs of people with disabilities, having regard to the Council's Design and Development Control Guideline No.4 - Considerate design for the less agile.
5.56 The Council recognises that the needs of people with disabilities have sometimes been overlooked in the design of buildings. The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, as amended in 1976, requires that developments to which the public will have access, make provision, where practicable and reasonable, for people with disabilities in respect of access, both within and to the building, and in the provision of parking and sanitary facilities. Compliance with the Act is a legal duty. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requires local planning authorities to seek opportunities to provide and enhance facilities for people with disabilities in the discussion and negotiation arising from development proposals. The Council will also have regard to the Disabled Persons Act 1981, which requires statutory bodies and local authorities, when carrying out highway works, to allow for the special needs of people with disabilities. Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 encourages developers and local authorities to consider the issue of access at an early stage in the design process. It goes on to emphasise that the appropriate design of spaces between and around buildings and of parking provision is particularly important in ensuring good access. Compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is recommended wherever alterations to premises for use in supplying goods or services or other workplace are proposed. Building Bulletin 91 published by the Department for Education and Employment provides specific guidance regarding the design of school and college buildings. The Council has adopted design guidance (Design Development Control Guideline No.4 - Considerate design for the less agile) on this topic to which it will have regard when determining planning applications. Policy h23 sets out the Council's expectations with regard to accessible housing.
The Council will oppose the use of land or buildings for advertisements where they detract from the character or appearance of the surrounding area, or where they have an adverse effect on public safety and, particularly within Conservation Areas, the Council will apply all available controls over the display of advertisements in order to:
- ensure that the character and appearance of the area is preserved;
- encourage a high standard of design for new advertisements;
- seek the removal of unsightly advertisements; and
- investigate the designation of further areas of special advertisement control.
5.51 Advertisements can often be unsightly and detract from the appearance and character of the environment. In addition, advertisements can constitute potential hazards if they obscure traffic signals, or obstruct traffic sight‑lines or directional signs. Most Conservation Areas, by their special nature, are particularly sensitive to the visual impact of advertisements. Advertisements can be intrusive in residential areas, and even in more commercial areas, and poorly sited or excessively large or numerous advertisements can create a cluttered and unsightly appearance, to the detriment of the character and appearance of the area. The Council will therefore impose strict controls over the display and illumination of advertisements and signs within sensitive areas, particularly Conservation Areas. Further guidance with regard to advertisements, illuminated and projecting signs, hoardings and commercial poster displays can be found in the Design and Development Control Guideline No.7 - Shopfronts And Advertisements.
In order to provide permanent and effective improvements to the environment, the Council will promote and assist a programme of environmental improvement schemes throughout the borough, subject to the availability of resources. In certain circumstances the Council may use statutory powers, under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act, to improve derelict or unsightly land or buildings.
5.58 The programme of improvements to the appearance and quality of small areas throughout the borough is designed to operate in areas outside the scope of other Council services concerned with the physical environment. This programme of improvements complements other means to improve the quality of the environment and will enhance small areas that might otherwise have received little or no attention. Under the 1990 Act, a local authority may take positive action in respect of land whose condition has become detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood. The programme will include schemes to enhance the environment within Conservation Areas (see Policy ENV49).
The Council recognises the need and desire for telecommunications equipment in order to facilitate the growth of telecommunications systems and will give favourable consideration to proposals, provided that they meet the criteria set out in this policy, in Government Guidance and in Statutory Regulations, as relevant. In particular, the Council will seek to ensure that satellite dishes, terrestrial microwave antennas, aerials and all other telecommunications equipment should only be located in such a way as to minimise any adverse effects on the character or visual amenity of the area.
In considering any proposals for telecommunications equipment, bearing in mind the limitations imposed by lines of sight, technical issues and legal requirements, the Council will need to be satisfied that:
- all alternative locations or means of telecommunication have been fully explored;
- there is no reasonable possibility of sharing existing facilities, particularly masts;
- in the case of antennae and masts, there is no possibility of locating these on an existing building or other structure;
- the siting, design, materials, colour and appearance of the equipment should minimise the visual impact of the development on the environment, with screening and landscaping where relevant; and
- where a satellite dish or other equipment is to be located to serve an individual property, its location should be carefully chosen so as to minimise the impact on the appearance of the building and consideration should be given to alternative locations for the equipment at low level within the site.
The Council will normally refuse any application or intervene on any developments by telecommunications operators which would adversely affect Conservation Areas, scheduled Ancient Monuments, statutorily listed buildings and buildings of local interest, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, registered historic parks and gardens or other areas of sensitive landscape.
5.59 There is a continuing growth in telecommunications systems and in the associated equipment to serve both local residents and businesses. The Council recognises the need for such equipment and will facilitate the growth of telecommunications technology but it must also be recognised that telecommunications equipment can be very intrusive in the environment. It will therefore, be necessary to balance the need for such equipment with the need to protect the character and appearance of the area, particularly in certain sensitive areas. The criteria set out in the Policy ENV45 aim to minimise the intrusion of equipment by promoting shared use of masts, locating equipment on existing structures (e.g. tall buildings) and seeking the most sensitive location and design of equipment
5.60 Much of the development undertaken by code systems operators is permitted development but the Council has the opportunity to intervene to require prior approval of details of the siting or appearance of the equipment. The Council can also seek the relocation of antennae installed under permitted development rights where they do not meet the requirement to minimise the effect on the appearance of the building. In exercising these powers, as in determining applications, the Council will take account of the criteria set out in Policy ENV45 above, in Government Guidance and in Statutory Regulations as relevant. In most cases there will be a range of potential locations for equipment which would meet the need for line of sight to the broadcasting point and efforts will be made to secure the least intrusive location for such equipment. The Council can offer guidance on the location of equipment, particularly to householders seeking to locate dish aerials for satellite television. People intending to install telecommunications equipment are recommended to contact the Council's Development Control Section who will be able to advise on location and confirm whether planning permission or listed building consent is required.
Conservation of the built environment
5.61 The main growth of built development in the borough dates from the l9th Century, with large areas of farmland being engulfed by new housing development in the l920's and 30's. This development, resulting from increased accessibility to London, set the suburban scene. However, within this development, the historic pattern of some old villages remains, and the earlier suburban development has established settlements of a character of recognised importance. Conservation Area designation identifies these areas and seeks to protect their character.
5.62 The borough also has a heritage of historic buildings, some dating back hundreds of years. The most important of these are listed buildings or ancient monuments, which the Council aims to protect in line with national policy, including, where appropriate, helping to identify the optimum viable use that is compatible with conserving their historic structure and character. The Council also identifies buildings of local interest, which contribute to the character of the area and whilst these have no additional statutory protection, the Council recognises their importance and will seek their retention.
5.63 The heritage of our built environment is a finite resource and, once lost, it cannot be replaced. This heritage is of value as indicating the evolution of the area, setting its scale and character and providing continuity in a changing world. Historic buildings and areas add to the attractiveness of the borough and, besides being of importance in their own right, help to make the area attractive to visitors and residents alike. Hall Place is a major historic complex and visitor attraction in need of substantial improvement and investment. The occupation of the house has declined in recent years and structural problems have become apparent. It is important that a viable future for the house and grounds is identified including, if necessary, the agreement of a Planning Brief identifying options and criteria. This approach could also be adopted for other appropriate sites.
Any new development, alterations or extensions to existing buildings or structures within Conservation Areas should preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area and in order to promote a high standard of design, the following shall apply:
- other than in exceptional circumstances, outline applications will not be appropriate and all applicants will be expected to indicate clearly how the proposed development relates to surrounding buildings;
- design guidelines will be produced for each Conservation Area as resources permit;
- Planning Briefs and design guides will be produced where appropriate for particularly important or sensitive sites; and
- developers will be encouraged to employ the specialist services of qualified professionals such as architects, urban designers and town planners.
5.64 In Conservation Areas there is a presumption that new developments should preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area. Good quality and sympathetic design is vital in these areas, and it is therefore important that proposals are well planned, in detail and in relation to their surroundings. Alterations or extensions should respect the design, scale and materials of the original building and harmonise with the location. Any proposals will be assessed on the extent to which they respect and respond to the character or appearance of the area. In order to provide guidance on these issues the Council has produced statements of character for each of the Conservation Areas and where necessary, more detailed guidelines will be produced. See also Policy ENV43 regarding advertisements and signs in Conservation Areas.
The Council will generally oppose the demolition of buildings or alterations that involve the removal of parts of buildings within Conservation Areas, where they contribute to the character or appearance of the area.
5.65 In most cases, consent is required to demolish any building or a substantial part of a building, if it lies within a Conservation Area. Buildings of little apparent individual character may still be of great visual character as part of a group or may have particular historic significance. Therefore, there will be a presumption against the loss of buildings that contribute to the character and appearance of the area. Where the demolition of a building may be acceptable, consent will only be given once permission has been granted for a suitable replacement building and agreements or contracts have been entered into to guarantee that the scheme will be implemented. Where consent is required for the demolition or alterations involving the removal of parts of buildings, such as shop fronts and chimney stacks, and these will be carefully controlled so as to protect original features of the area and to avoid erosion of the character of the Conservation Area.
The Council will review the need to designate new Conservation Areas and amend the boundaries of existing ones.
5.66 As required by Government legislation, the desirability of declaring new or extended Conservation Areas is kept under continuous review. As circumstances change, and the value of different styles of architecture and development is realised, it could be appropriate to declare further Conservation Areas in order to protect the best examples of certain types of development. For example, the value of Victorian estates is now well accepted, and it is increasingly realised that, whilst this borough has noteworthy examples of inter‑war estates, many are being ruined by unsympathetic alterations. It is therefore intended that these areas will be reviewed to assess their potential for declaration as Conservation Areas.
The Council will formulate, promote and assist schemes for the enhancement and preservation of character and appearance of Conservation Areas, subject to the availability of resources.
5.67 Councils have a duty to formulate and publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of Conservation Areas. The published statement of character for each designated Conservation Area makes reference to the potential for enhancement. The Council will seek to co-ordinate the activities of various departments, statutory undertakers and property owners with the aim of enhancing the character and appearance of the area. Schemes to enhance the environment will be prepared within the Council's programme of environmental improvements (see Policy ENV44).
The Council will make Article 4 Directions as appropriate to control development within particularly vulnerable and sensitive parts of Conservation Areas.
5.68 The declaration of a Conservation Area brings certain controls over demolition of buildings, but does not significantly change the normal permitted development rights to carry out minor alterations, particularly in the case of dwelling houses. Minor alterations can affect the character of buildings and may, by their cumulative effect, mar the character of the area. In sensitive locations, the Council will consider controlling permitted development by means of Article 4 Directions. These Directions, some of which require the approval of the Secretary of State for the Environment, will be applied only where necessary, i.e. where there is a perceived risk of changes affecting the character of recognised important areas.
The Council will oppose the demolition of any listed building, in whole or in part, or of any structure within the curtilage of a listed building which contributes to the character of that building and will resist any proposals which detract from the setting of a listed building and in considering any proposal to alter or extend a listed building, will have regard to the desirability of preserving the building and its setting.
5.69 The listing of a building is recognition of its national importance, in both architectural and historic terms. Only a very small number of buildings are listed and these represent a very important limited resource. Continuity and preservation of original fabric is, therefore, important. Inappropriate alterations may irreparably damage the architectural or historic integrity of the building, and will not be acceptable. It will therefore be expected that all original features of architectural or historic interest, both internal and external shall be retained. Alterations to these important buildings require the greatest skill and care in design and implementation in order to avoid damage to historic fabric and to ensure that any works are in keeping with the remainder of the building and its setting.
5.70 With specialist advice and grants available for the restoration of such buildings, it is considered very unlikely that the demolition of a listed building could be justified. A building's setting is often an important part of its character. Schemes that affect the setting of a listed building can, if insensitively designed or located, detract from the special architectural or historic interest, or character of this valuable and limited resource. The Council has various statutory powers to secure the protection of listed buildings, including as a last resort compulsory purchase at minimal value if a building is deliberately neglected. The Council will keep under review the desirability of using these powers in order to secure the protection of these important buildings. Listed buildings in the borough are set out in Appendix D1 to the Plan. From time to time, the Department for Culture Media and Sport may add or remove buildings from this list, re-grade buildings or publish revised descriptions of them. Appendix D1 should therefore not be relied upon as a definitive list.
Proposals to change the use of a listed building will be acceptable only where this would be essential to secure its preservation and future maintenance, where the new use would not adversely affect the fabric or character of the building or its setting, and where this would not conflict with other policies in the Plan.
5.71 Some listed buildings designed for specific uses may become unviable in that use, which may lead to neglect. If a case can be made by an applicant that the only means of preserving a listed building is to allow a change of use, then that change may be considered acceptable. However, new uses will only be considered which do not harm the fabric or character of the historic building or its setting.
Buildings of local interest
The Council will encourage the preservation of buildings on the register of buildings of local architectural or historic interest.
5.72 Besides the listed buildings, there are a number of buildings of local importance, which are historic and contribute significantly to the townscape of the borough. These buildings are not subject to additional statutory controls, but the Council will encourage their preservation through normal town planning controls. Any proposals to alter such buildings should be architecturally compatible with the style of the original building. The Council will discourage the demolition of buildings of local interest, and where they are at risk, the Council, with the advice of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, may consider the serving of a Building Preservation Notice, with a view to statutory listing, to protect the building. The register of local interest buildings is set out at Appendix D2 and will be subject to periodic review.
The Council will monitor the condition of historic buildings and use such powers as may be available to secure the restoration of those considered to be at risk or neglected.
5.73 Historic buildings are sometimes neglected and deterioration may accelerate unless action is taken to protect the fabric. The Council will therefore monitor the condition of historic buildings and will use the range of statutory powers available to secure the protection of the building, such as boarding up, repairing holes in roofs, etc. Listed Buildings at risk will be considered for inclusion in the English Heritage's Buildings at Risk Register. In cases of deliberate neglect the Council may, as a last resort, consider the compulsory purchase of the building at minimal value, in order to secure its preservation.
5.74 The repair and restoration of historic buildings often involves specialist techniques and materials, and incurs additional expense. In order to encourage work of the highest quality, the Council will consider offering grants as resources permit. Grants are available from other sources, and applications to these bodies will be supported, particularly where a package of grants could secure the full restoration of an important building.
The Council will seek to secure the restoration and preservation of historic buildings and features, such as street furniture, in the public domain.
5.75 As the owner of a number of statutory listed and local interest buildings, the Council recognises the importance of these as part of the local townscape. The Council is also responsible for a number of historic items, such as street signs, which add to the character of the area. As resources permit, these items will be carefully maintained and restored.
5.76 The archæological remains below the ground represent a storehouse of historic information including evidence of the evolution of development and settlements in this area. This applies to remains of domestic, industrial and agricultural origins. All remains are unique and represent a finite and non‑renewable resource. As such, there will always be a presumption to protect such remains. Recent thinking suggests that it is best to preserve as many remains as possible in situ since future analytical techniques may enable far more information to be gleaned from the sites. Excavation can result in the destruction of material, levels, etc. leaving only rescued artifacts and any records made during excavation. This is considered to be second best. However, the potential archæological interest must be weighed against the needs of development. Where development of necessity disturbs the sub‑soil levels on sites of archaeological interest, adequate investigations and excavation will be expected and policies have been formulated on this basis. Government advice in PPG16, "Archæology and Planning", reinforces the need for developers to give early consideration to archaeological issues, normally before planning applications are made.
In Areas of Archæological Search and other areas where finds are likely to occur and in certain historic standing buildings where development proposals may affect archaeological remains or historical evidence, the Council will expect applicants to have properly assessed and planned for the archaeological implications. The Council may require a preliminary archaeological site evaluation before proposals are considered.
5.77 The Proposals Map identifies the most important known archæological areas, indicated as Areas of Archæological Search, prepared by representatives of the Museum of London. This indicates approximate areas where there could be interesting remains, but the boundaries should not be taken as being definitive, and finds may occur outside these areas. Historical evidence may also be revealed during alterations to standing buildings, and it is important that such evidence is properly recorded. In areas where finds are most likely to occur, the Council may require preliminary site investigation, so that the possible extent of interest can be established in advance. Such an assessment will involve a field evaluation carried out by a recognised archæological organisation or suitably qualified individuals to a specification set by the Local Planning Authority. In certain cases, applications may not be considered before such an evaluation is completed. This will benefit developers in that they will be fully aware of any implications before works begin on site, since later changes of design to accommodate archæological remains can prove expensive. Developers are invited to discuss implications and the need for evaluations at the earliest possible stage.
Where sites of archæological significance or potential are discovered the Council will seek to ensure that:
- the most important archæological remains and their settings are preserved in situ (if appropriate for public access and display) and that where appropriate they are given statutory protection; and
- sites not requiring preservation in situ shall be made available for an appropriate level of archaeological investigation and excavation by a recognised archaeological organisation before development begins.
5.78 Archæological sites can be damaged or destroyed by even modest developments. The most important remains should be preserved wherever possible because of their historic interest. Where sites are to be developed, and archæological remains are not to be preserved in situ, arrangements should be made, including planning agreements as necessary, for the proper investigation, excavation and recording of remains. A specification of work for any investigation will need to be agreed beforehand. There should also be provision for the subsequent analysis, interpretation and presentation to the public of the archæological results and findings. Developers will be expected to co‑operate in archæological investigations and, if not prepared to do so voluntarily, the Council will consider whether it would be appropriate to direct an applicant to supply further information under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Applications) Regulations 1988. This is in accordance with the Government's advice in PPG16. A code of practice has been agreed by developers and archæologists (the British Archæologists' and Developers' Code of Practice) and the use of this will be encouraged. The Council appreciates the need to minimise the impact on development proposals and in conjunction with the Museum of London and English Heritage will offer advice to help minimise any possible delays or alterations to developments and to guide design around sensitive locations.
There will be a presumption against any development, which would adversely affect any scheduled Ancient Monument or other nationally important archaeological sites and monuments and their settings.
5.79 The designation of certain monuments as scheduled Ancient Monuments is a recognition of their special national importance. Their rarity means that special action will be taken to protect them from unsuitable development or uses which may damage the remains or adversely affect their setting. The sites currently scheduled as Ancient Monuments are listed at Appendix D3.
5.80 The Council has a range of means at its disposal to secure the protection of archæological remains. In general, the preference is to use voluntary agreements freely entered into by all parties concerned. However, where necessary, the Council will consider using its statutory powers or seeking action by others such as English Heritage and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Council will encourage improved energy efficiency in all new buildings, conversions and changes of use.
5.81 It is essential to achieve improvement in energy efficiency, particularly in the housing sector where large amounts of fuel are used for space heating. Energy efficiency is promoted by the Government White Paper "This Common Inheritance". The Council has a role in encouraging good and modern functional design to ensure that all development is more energy efficient.
The Council will encourage improved security and crime prevention measures in new development.
5.82 In accordance with PPG1 and Circular 5/94 "Planning Out Crime", the Council will have regard to the concept of designing out crime. This is a comparatively recent development in crime prevention, and evidence shows that security can be incorporated into the design and layout of a project, offering additional benefits to both developers and occupiers.