Strategic Environmental Assessment

Environmental Report

Supplementary Planning Guidance:

Open Space and Designing New Residential Developments

May 2009


Section 1 Non-technical summary

1.1  Background

1.2  Report

Section 2 Introduction

2.1 Objectives and content of the Environmental Report

2.2 Key facts

2.3 SEA activities to date

2.4 Screening

2.5 Scoping

Section 3 SPG: Open space and designing new residential developments

3.1 Outline and objectives of the PPS

3.2 Strategic actions of the PPS

3.3 Relationship with other PPS and environmental objectives

3.4 Relevant aspects of the current state of the environment

3.5 Evolution of the environment in the absence of the PPS

3.6 Environmental problems identified

3.7 Assessment of future area without the PPS

3.8 SEA Objectives

Section 4 Assessment of environmental effects and measures envisaged for prevention, reduction and offset of any significant adverse effects

4.1 Alternatives considered

4.2 Assessment methods

4.3 Summary of assessment findings

4.4 Alternatives within the selected PPS

4.5 Proposed mitigation measures

Section 5 Monitoring

Section 6 Next steps

1.  Non-technical summary

1.1 Background

1.1.1 The current South Ayrshire Local Plan contains a limited amount of guidance in relation to the design and layout of new residential areas. The Plan is also supported by supplementary guidance which provides guidance in terms of the quantity and types of open space to be provided within new residential developments. Given that open space forms an integral part of new residential developments it was considered logical to produce a piece of guidance which considered both the design and layout of residential areas with open space requirements.

1.1.2 In addition to the need to consider the two areas in tandem, it was also considered that the current open space guidance was outdated, confusing and often producing mundane residential developments which do not respond to their context. It was therefore decided that an entirely new piece of guidance was required to address each of these issues.

1.1.3 The PPS addresses matters of detail and is therefore not of strategic significance in terms of the hierarchy of plans to which it relates. There are a number of plans and programmes which relate to the PPS. The table below provides a list of each of the relevant plans and programmes and the level at which they sit in terms of the overall hierarchy.

1 / Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC
2 / Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EEC
4 / Convention on Biodiversity (1992)
5 / European Biodiversity Strategy (1998)
6 / SPP1: The Planning System
7 / SPP3: Planning for Housing
8 / SPP7: Planning and Flooding
9 / SPP11: Open Space and Physical Activity
10 / SPP17: Planning for Transport
11 / Designing Places (2001)
12 / Water Quality Directive
13 / PAN 61: Planning and Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems
14 / PAN 65: Planning and Open Space
15 / PAN 76: New Residential Streets
16 / PAN 77: Designing Safe Places
17 / PAN 78: Inclusive Design
18 / Ayrshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan
19 / Ayrshire Joint Structure Plan
20 / South Ayrshire Local Plan (including Wildlife Strategy)
21 / South Ayrshire Parks and Public Open Spaces Recreation and Landscape Strategy
22 / South Ayrshire’s Local Transport Strategy

1.1.4 The PPS will be used to supplement the content of the South Ayrshire Local Plan in terms of providing additional detail on matters relating to the design and layout of new residential areas and the quality and quantity of open space to be provided within such areas. There will therefore be a number of plans and programmes which have an impact upon the content of the PPS either directly or indirectly.

1.1.5 Under the terms of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005 any plan or programme which falls within the scope of sections 4 and 5 of the Act is required to go through the process of a formal strategic environmental assessment (SEA). The four main criteria when considering if an SEA is required are:-

·  Is the PPS subject to preparation or adoption (or both) at national regional or local level?

·  Is the PPS prepared for adoption through a legislative procedure?

·  Is the PPS prepared for agricultural, forestry, fisheries, energy, industry, waste management, water management, tourism, telecommunications, town and country planning or land use and sets the framework for future development consent of projects?

·  Is the PPS likely to have a significant effect on the environment?

1.1.6 The purpose of a SEA is to protect the environment by ensuring that environmental considerations are taken into account at the outset of the decision making process. In terms of the PPS being assessed as part of this SEA, the purpose is to ensure that any potentially significant environmental impacts are identified, assessed and then mitigated against where possible. It is also to consider alternative options where they are deemed to be reasonable and where they can meet the overall objectives of the PPS. There are five key stages to the SEA process:-

·  Screening Determining whether the plan/programme is likely to have significant environmental effects.

·  Scoping Deciding on the scope and level of detail of the environmental report, and the consultation period for the report; this is done in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Ministers (Historic Scotland) and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

·  Environmental Report Publishing an environmental report on the plan or programme and its environmental effects, and consulting on that report

·  Post adoption This provides information on the adopted PPS, how consultation comments have been taken into account and the methods selected for monitoring the significant environmental effects of the implementation of the plan/programme

1.1.7 At the screening stage of the process it was considered necessary to undertake a SEA in respect of the associated PPS as it will have a considerable impact upon all new residential developments within South Ayrshire following its approval. However, the need for SEA has become dubious through the process of the assessment due to the apparent lack of impact upon the environment as a direct result of its implementation. However the assessment has been conducted in full and is summarised below.

1.2 Report

1.2.1 The purpose of the SEA Environmental Report is to assess a piece of supplementary policy guidance entitled “open space and designing new residential developments” in respect of any environmental issues which are likely to be significantly affected by the implementation of this piece of guidance and to consider alternatives and mitigation measures where necessary.

1.2.2 The assessment which has been carried out considers the content of the PPS against the environmental issues (and associated objectives) which were deemed to be relevant to it and which were deemed to have the potential to be affected by the content of the PPS (appendix 3). The assessment has shown that there will be little or no impact upon these environmental issues as the PPS will not be used to determine whether or not a site is suitable for a housing development. This determination will be at an earlier stage; either through the process of a local plan (which will now be subject to SEA) or as a windfall site. The content of the PPS will have no bearing upon this stage of the process.

1.2.3 It has therefore become evident that any impacts arising as a result of the implementation of the PPS will be positive as the PPS seeks to produce high quality residential environments with open spaces which are fit for purpose once the determination has been made that the site is suitable for residential development.

1.2.4 However, at the scoping stage of the process the precautionary principle was used to ensure that any potential impacts were scoped into the assessment. At this stage it was clear that a number of the SEA environmental issues had no relevance whatsoever to the content of the PPS and were therefore ‘scoped out’. Those issues which were scoped in are: biodiversity, flora and fauna, human health, water, material assets and landscape. As the SEA process has progressed it has become apparent that these issues will be impacted upon, not as a result of the content of the PPS, but as a result of a decision being made to deem a site suitable for residential development.

1.2.5 Notwithstanding the above, the assessment has shown that there will be only positive impacts as a result of the PPS upon the SEA environmental issues identified.

1.2.6 To ensure that any environmental impacts arising as a result of the implementation of the PPS can be monitored it was necessary to identify and collect baseline data. The volume of meaningful and valuable baseline data relevant to the PPS is fairly minimal given that the document will not be used as a basis for deciding whether or not the principle of residential development is acceptable upon a site. There is therefore only a limited amount of general baseline data which could be of relevance to the content of the PPS. The baseline data is provided at Table 3.

1.2.7 As part of the Environmental Report some consideration has been given as to how the environment would evolve in the absence of the PPS. It is anticipated that there would be minimal impact upon the environment without the implementation of the PPS. Although the purpose of the PPS is to improve new residential developments and thereby improve the environments within which people live, it is not thought that this would have a significant impact upon any of the baseline data collected as part of the SEA. The PPS will simply bring South Ayrshire Council’s policies, in respect of open space and wider design considerations, in line with Scottish Government policy and guidance. It will also help to address some of the issues which have been identified in discussion with local interest groups such as the failings of the current open space policy.

1.2.8 The environmental problems which relate to the PPS are mainly subjective and can therefore not be quantified by supporting data. In most instances the problems have been identified through discussion with colleagues who operate the existing open space policy. It is hoped that the PPS will begin to address the problems which have been identified (see Table 4). The monitoring stage of the SEA process will consider how the issues identified at this stage of the process have been addressed through the content of the PPS.

1.2.9 Another means through which the PPS will be assessed is through developing some SEA objectives which are relevant to the PPS for the purposes of managing the environmental performance of the PPS. The SEA objectives which have been selected for the PPS are aligned to those environmental issues which were ‘scoped in’ at the earlier stage. These SEA objectives have been assessed against the objectives of the PPS (appendix 1) and policies contained within the PPS (appendix 3).

1.2.10 A number of alternatives were developed in respect of the most appropriate method of developing the guidance. Each of these alternatives were assessed against the SEA objectives (appendix 2) in order to find the most suitable option for developing the PPS. The assessment showed that one of the alternatives had clear benefits over the others. However, it was considered that this alternative was not realistic in terms of the resources which would be required and it was therefore concluded that the alternative which scored second highest would be the most workable solution.

1.2.11 It is clear that the environmental impacts that would arise as a result of the implementation of the PPS would only be positive as the purpose of the document is to ensure that new sites which are considered suitable for residential development are designed and laid out in an appropriate manner to create good residential living environments and to ensure that the open spaces within such developments are fit for purpose.

2. Introduction

2.1 Objectives and content of the Environmental Report

2.1.1 This Environmental Report has been produced as part of a Strategic Environmental Assessment undertaken by South Ayrshire Council in respect of a Supplementary Planning Guidance document entitled Open Space and Designing New Residential Developments. SEA is required by the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005. There are a number of key stages to go through before reaching this stage in the process. So far this has included a screening report and scoping report. The purpose of the SEA process is to ensure that environmental considerations are taken into account at the strategic level and thereby contributing towards the overall goal of sustainable development.

2.1.2 The purpose of this Environmental Report is to provide information on SPG: Open Space and Designing New Residential Developments (the SPG); to identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant effects of the PPS and its reasonable alternatives; and to provide an early and effective opportunity for the Consultation Authorities and any other interested parties to offer their views on any aspect of this Environmental Report.

2.1.3 This report provides:

·  The SEA methodology

·  A review of other relevant plans, programmes and objectives

·  A review of environmental problems and opportunities

·  The SEA objectives A review of environmental baseline data

·  A test of the PPS objectives

·  The assessment of the PPS policies (action plan)

·  The monitoring framework

·  The incorporation of the results of the SEA into the PPS

2.2 Key facts

2.2.1 The key facts relating to the PPS are set out in Table 1 below.

Table 1. Key facts relating to Supplementary Planning Guidance: Open Space and Designing New Residential Developments

Name of Responsible Authority / South Ayrshire Council
Title of PPS / Supplementary Planning Guidance: Open Space and Designing New Residential Developments
What prompted the PPS / The Council currently operates a supplementary planning policy which provides minimum standards for open space within new developments. It has become increasingly apparent that this guidance can be difficult to operate in practice, does not often achieve the required standards and is somewhat outdated.
Subject / Planning
Period covered by PPS / 2008-2013
Frequency of updates / 5 yearly
Area covered by PPS / The PPS will be relevant to all land within South Ayrshire.
Purpose and/or objectives of PPS / ·  to ensure that the design principles associated with new residential developments and open space are considered in parallel;
·  to produce developments which have quality areas of open space with clear functions;
·  to enhance street design by enshrining the principles of PAN76 (soon to be superseded by Designing Streets) within the SPG;
·  to clarify the position of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) in relation to open space;
·  to provide quantitative standards for open space.
Contact point / Kenny Campbell

2.3 SEA activities to date