Planning for the Wild is the Trust’s guidance on the planning system, and how it can be used most effectively to protect wildlife habitats and green spaces of natural interest.
Sustainable development is the key to the future of London; this is now encapsulated as a principle within the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Widely interpreted as a term, sustainable development is that which protects the availability of environmental resources for future generations and depends on the rigorous application of principles and safeguards to achieve this. Criteria to test the environmental credentials of new development are increasingly been reviewed and implemented; these include the impact on wildlife populations and habitats.
The planning system provides us all with an opportunity to influence how we use land, what we build and where we build it. It provides a mechanism to protect London’s wildlife, and can unlock measures to conserve and enhance our special wildlife species and habitats. However, as we are all aware, the very same planning system has contributed to a significant assault upon the capital’s wildlife over the last 60 years. Recognised wildlife sites have been damaged or lost through unsympathetic development, and habitats not accorded a level of planning protection are even more vulnerable to disappearing under bricks and mortar. Added to this is the fact that much of London’s fauna, flora and fungi are neither particularly rare nor protected on a national level, lending the impression to planners and developers that they are of little wildlife value.
At the same time we should not forget the successes of campaigns to save threatened sites from inappropriate development over the same period. London Wildlife Trust has long recognised that by involving ourselves in the planning process we can help at a fundamental level to protect and conserve our wildlife. Sydenham Hill Wood, Gunnersbury Triangle and Roxbourne Rough are here today precisely because of ordinary peoples’ involvement in the planning process.
However, we can ill-afford to pretend that past successes will hold water in the future. Development pressure in London continues at a relentless pace. The NPPF has been developed to help maintain growth, and The London Plan, recently revised in 2011, reinforces this agenda, albeit with greater recognition of the need to protect our natural assets. Both the Government’s and the Mayor’s biodiversity strategies are, in comparison, relatively toothless. The recognised importance, however, of green spaces as a contribution to our quality of life is a welcome feature of current planning policy. We must also be aware that the drive for economic and social regeneration will depend on successfully capitalising upon the natural, green and wild space resources within the region, and that the planning system can provide opportunities for biodiversity, conservation and enhancement.
Everyone has the power to influence the shape of their local environment. Through using the planning process and local environmental fora, people are able to exert their own local knowledge to assist decisions on how development may be accommodated or refused.
It is for this reason that London Wildlife Trust published Planning for the Wild; how to use the planning system to protect and conserve London’s biodiversity in 2001. Revised in 2004, and with some minor changes in 2010, it aims to help people on how to use the planning system to the best advantage in relation to wildlife habitats, and help them protect the wild flora and fauna in their own area. The guide explains the workings of the planning system to those unfamiliar with the subject, and should aid in the development of a sustainable city.
Note: Given the recent programme of new legislation and changes to planning policy, Planning for the Wild does not currently reflect the impacts of the NPPF, the revised London Plan, or other recent policy changes, and is due to be significantly revised in 2012. Nevertheless much of the information is still valid, and therefore is available for use.
If you require further clarification on issues within the guide, please contact email@example.com