Planning and Climate Change
- Meeting of Executive, Wednesday, 11th March, 2020 10.00 am (Item 38.)
- View the background to item 38.
The report of the Strategic Director (Growth and Development) is attached.
Manchester’s commitment to climate change had been well documented, from adopting a science-based carbon budget of 15 million tonnes of CO2 between 2018 and 2100 and endorsing the draft Manchester Zero Carbon Framework as the city’s overarching approach to meet science-based targets on tackling climate change, to declaring a Climate Emergency in July 2019, which recognised the need for the Council, and the city as a whole, to do more to reduce its carbon emissions and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.
The planning system was one of the ways which could help mitigate climate change and assist in influencing and supporting those involved in place-making and shaping the use of land and buildings. With regard to climate change there was a statutory duty on local planning authorities to include policies in their local plans that are designed to tackle climate change and its impacts. The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (as of 2019) now included a stronger emphasis on future development, previously lacking in the older version, stating that plans must “pro-actively shape places in a way that contributes to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimise vulnerability and improve resilience”. It further notes that local planning authorities need to take account of the Climate Change Act 2008.
The report explained that the Framework also contained policies on a wide range of other topics such as significantly boosting the supply of housing, the use of land and the importance of development being viable to willing developers. The balance between these factors was left to local planning authorities to strike through its Local Plan preparation. Manchester’s current local plan, the Core Strategy was adopted in 2012 and was about to undergo a refresh and the Councils declaration on climate change would be at the heart of this review which would seek to align policy and processes to tackle this key issue.
It was also reported that whilst the NPPF may contain policies on climate change there was a distinct lack of practical advice and support to local authorities on how to secure a radical reduction in carbon emissions. For a local planning authority, the test was therefore how to address its vision for future development in the local plan process in the context of the NPPF. It was also recognised that there were other potential challenges at a national level which were likely to impact on the Council’s climate change ambitions such as the deregulation of planning through the expansion of permitted development rights.
Prior to the adoption of the Council’s development plan - the Core Strategy in 2012, the City’s quality agenda was supported by the Guide to Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Endorsed in 2007, this provided the step change to a more comprehensive set of environmental policies in the Core Strategy. And with regard to climate change, the SPD set out a requirement, which still existed today, for planning proposals to be supported by an Environmental Standards Statement. The Core Strategy now embedded the principles of the Guide and introduced a number of policies that sought to enhance the built and natural environment and incorporate local and global environmental protection in planning activity.
It was also reported that the submission of a Construction Management Plans (CMP) were encouraged, and although these were not material considerations for the local planning authority, the purpose of requesting a CMP at the planning stage was to seek early consideration of associated issues by relevant parties as it was recognised that these could cause concern in areas particularly of significant growth. It also allowed for potential amenity and environmental issues and mitigation measures to be identified.
In advance of the refresh of the Core Strategy, and to help steer developers and applicants and those who needed more encouragement, officers had been considering how the Council could strengthen its position to address climate change. One way to provide a greater focus on the issue was through the information required at application stage. The validation checklist was used to specify the documents that had to be submitted before an application could proceed. Whilst this was updated in 2018 to allow for greater transparency with regards to viability assessments, it would seem timely to amend the list further particularly regarding the requirements for and contents of an environmental standard and a sustainability statement.
It was further explained that as the Council worked towards its 2038 zero carbon target ambition through the local plan review, an updated evidence base, including that on low carbon and renewable energy generation, flood risk assessments which understood climate change scenarios, and consideration of the viability of development would be prepared. The focus would be on the ability of local policies to ensure that new buildings played a key role in delivering carbon reduction. Discussions with the industry had already highlighted that it was clear that many responsible developers already recognised that it was incumbent on them to address climate change issues and many contractors, developers and occupiers had an understanding of their corporate social responsibility and how important this issue was to decision makers.
1. To note the report.
2. To agree to officers formally reviewing the Council’s approach to address the challenge of responding to the climate emergency via the planning process in advance of changes to the Government’s position on this issue following its recent consultation.
3. To request that officers commence a review of the local validation list and to commence work with stakeholders to establish a Manchester Building Standard with the aim to achieve the best possible standards in new design with respect to carbon performance in order to support local plan policy formation to inform the review of Manchester's local plan.
4. To delegate authority to the Director of Planning, in consultation with the Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport, to amend the process for consultation and adaptation of changes to the local validation list.
5. To endorse the development of guidance notes on retrofitting homes.