Local Plan changes

Monday 12th February 2018

Dogsthorpe Star Pit by Tim BurkeDogsthorpe Star Pit by Tim Burke

Effective changes to the Peterborough Local Plan have been secured by suggestions from the Wildlife Trust on the draft plan

The Wildlife Trust welcomes the major changes that Peterborough City Council have made to their Local Plan (still in public consultation until Wed 20 Feb), including the removal of the environmentally damaging new settlement at Castor, and strengthening of the environmental protection policies covering wildlife and open spaces, including many of the changes suggested by the Wildlife Trust in our comments on the draft plan.

Martin Baker, Wildlife Trust BCN Conservation Manager said: “The draft local plan included a highly damaging and unsustainable housing allocation at Castor, which would have damaged the National Nature Reserve at Castor Hanglands, including its wildflower-rich grasslands and population of nightingales. We are glad that the City Council has seen sense and responded to the views of local residents, local landowners, the Wildlife Trust, Natural England and many others.” He added: “We must not let our guard down as we fear that Homes England will keep trying to push their environmentally damaging plans, simply because they own the land, even though it is the wrong location for an extension to Peterborough.”

One of the other key changes to the local plan promoted by the Wildlife Trust has been the improvement to the open spaces policy. This now makes it clear that where new developments will increase the numbers of visitors to nature reserves to levels that could damage these sites, the developers must provide sufficient high quality new open spaces, to meet the recreational needs of the new residents or pay for improvements to the affected nature reserves.

Martin Baker said: “For too long, the nature reserves and open spaces managed by the Wildlife Trust and other local charities have been taken for granted. The new local plan will better ensure that existing wildlife-rich places are protected and that new developments provide high quality, wildlife-rich open spaces for new and existing residents, so that more people can benefit from hearing birdsong or grasshoppers chirrup, and see the colours of butterflies, dragonflies and wild flowers.”

The new open spaces policy will specifically benefit the Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Dogsthorpe Star Pit from the impacts of the 2,000 houses proposed at Norwood, only 500 metres from the nature reserve. Without this policy, the Wildlife Trust would have had to object to the Norwood development.

Looking ahead

The work of the Trust’s wider countryside team (often unheralded) is essential if we are to move towards more environmentally sustainable and wildlife friendly forms of development. If local plan development control policies are weak then the chances of preventing a planning application for a damaging housing or other development are remote. The stronger policies have come about not just as a result of our written comments, but also through time spent in meetings with Natural England, Peterborough City Council and other organisations such as the Local Nature Partnership and new Combined Authority (Mayor’s office), where we can knowledgeably and passionately promote the cause of local wildlife.