Do you have a local wild place that is important to you? Maybe a nearby woodland or park, a wildflower meadow, a nearby river or stream? Would you know what to do if you found out it was under threat from development? The planning system provides you with an opportunity to persuade planners and decision makers to provide for wildlife and protect species and habitats – and if you contact us, we may be able to help.
Our planning application comments
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust responds to strategic planning issues, consultations and key planning applications where wildlife or habitats are at threat – or to add comments in support of applications where best practice improvements are proposed.
One of the constant pressures upon our wildlife resources comes via the development of land, such as housing, roads or industry. Whilst some of these may offer biodiversity gains, there are many which could lead to an overall loss of wildlife or site integrity. To find out more about The Wildlife Trusts’ vision for more nature-friendly house building, read our publication Homes for People and Wildlife.
When a planning application arrives, we can use this to assess how much of these impacts and opportunities have been taken on board, prior to considering our formal response. At this stage we also liaise with other conservation groups, such as South Yorkshire Badger Group, South Yorkshire Bat Group and Sheffield Bird Study Group.
We also assist individuals and local communities with advice and information to help them respond to issues they are concerned about, so they are better prepared to have their concerns taken seriously.
We maintain a firm stance on issues which we consider to be detrimental to wildlife and as a result, we have contributed to a significant number of positive gains for wildlife.
Examples of our responses to planning applications
- Smithy Wood – submission 1, submission 2, submission 3, submission 4, submission 5
- Owlthorpe Fields – submission 1, submission 2, submission 3, Proof of Evidence
- Hollin Busk – submission 1, submission 2, submission 3, submission 4
- Hepworth Properties Ltd, East Works (Former Loxley Works), Storrs Lane – submission 1
- Long Line – submission 1, submission 2, submission 3
Each of these applications was either withdrawn by the developer or refused planning by the Local Planning Authority.
Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust cares about all places for wildlife, but as a charity we do have limited resources and so unfortunately we are unable to respond to every planning application. So in addition to those applications we are able to provide comments on ourselves, we actively encourage people to take action themselves to protect their local environment.
How to comment on a planning application
As a member of your community, you have local knowledge that makes your views important. By understanding the planning system and how to respond to planning applications, you may be able to use this knowledge to influence development at an early stage, perhaps preventing a harmful development or enhancing a proposal’s value to wildlife.
When a development is proposed that involves the changed use of a piece of land, a planning application must be made to the Local Planning Authority (LPA). The Local Planning Authorities covering our operating area are Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and the Peak District National Park Authority.
Using the above links, you will find information about planning and planning policies from each of those Local Planning Authorities, as well as search facilities to find a specific planning application or view a weekly list of applications.
A very important factor to bear in mind when responding to a planning application is to try and restrict your comments to specific planning concerns. Whilst emotional concerns for loss of nature or green space may quite understandably drive your desire to challenge an application for development, unfortunately they are not a legitimate reason for refusal. Only comments regarding why an application does not meet the requirements of national planning policy or the relevant local authority’s planning and development policies will carry weight in the decision-making process.
If you’re concerned about a local development proposal or planning application that could impact on nature, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 263 4335.
If you have any concerns about illegal tree felling or destruction of hedgerows, click here to find out more about this issue.
Click here for our quick how-to guide on understanding the planning system.
Good practice enhancement for biodiversity in developments
For most schemes we think there is an opportunity to provide ecological mitigation, enhancement and green infrastructure through a number of on-site biodiversity enhancements. We have also produced our own guide for best practice mitigation opportunities, with links to further reading and resources which can downloaded here.
The Wildlife Trusts are not against development, including house building, but we think that provision for wildlife can be integrated into developments. This guidance shows how new housing developments can be built in a way that provides people with greener, inspirational homes which help to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat decline.
Influencing planning policies and strategies
Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust has always realised the importance of influencing relevant policies and strategies where they can have an impact on, or provide an opportunity for nature conservation and engagement with wildlife.
The work we do to influence planning policy includes:
- Working with The Wildlife Trusts nationally to influence policy and respond to relevant consultations, such as Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan and national planning policies.
- Influencing Sheffield and Rotherham’s planning policy documents including Local Plans and supplementary planning documents by responding to consultations and providing information to Local Planning Authority Officers.
- Working with Local Planning Authorities to to integrate Nature Recovery Networks/ecological networks/green infrastructure into Local Plans.
- Co-chairing the Sheffield Green Commission.
- Responding to HS2 consultations and highlighting concerns through campaigning.
- Providing briefing papers for local Councillors and articles for members on policy changes such as Biodiversity Net Gain.
- Ensure Local Wildlife Sites are protected robustly in the local planning systems (as the sites are not protected in any other way).
More widely we work to influence local, regional and national strategies, for example by:
- Influencing local environment strategies including: Sheffield Trees and Woodlands Strategy, Sheffield Flood Prevention Consultation, Sheffield’s Green & Open Spaces Strategy, Sheffield Waterways Strategy, Rotherham Waterways Strategy and the South Yorkshire Green Infrastructure Strategy by attending meetings and workshops, sitting on steering groups and responding to consultations.
- Chair the South Yorkshire Local Nature Partnership to influence policy and sharing of good practice across the county.
- Encouraging Local Authorities and other public bodies to implement the NERC Biodiversity Duty.
- Influencing key community and well-being strategies to ensure that engagement with the natural environment and the benefits of sustainable lifestyles are included.
This work is important because it allows the Trust’s priorities to be integrated into these policies and strategies, making it easier for the work to actually be delivered on the ground. The work also raises the profile of the Trust and the different work we do. The Trust’s Chief Executive and Living Landscape Development Manager lead on this work with other members of staff, trustees and volunteers.
All Local Authorities in England must provide a Local Plan which sets out the strategy and policies to enable sustainable development in the area. They are used to help make decisions on planning applications and other planning-related matters. In effect, they are the local guide to what can be built where, shaping infrastructure and determining the future pattern of development.
Local Plans must be prepared in consultation with the community and there are set times in the process where local people can put their ideas across to their council. The plan-making process is long, often running over several years. It is important that we submit comments at every stage to ensure wildlife and the natural environment is referenced and included in the development of the Plan.
Sheffield City Council is currently consulting on a new Local Plan for the city. For more information about the Sheffield Plan, click here.
For information about Rotherham’s Local Plan, click here.
Together with our members and supporters we are able to carry out this vital work. If you would like to support us to continue to help community groups and individuals with planning responses to protect wildlife from the threat of developments please join us and become a member HERE or make a one off donation HERE. Thank you, as a charity your contributions really make a difference to local wildlife.