Chilterns Beechwoods SAC
Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMMS)
Dacorum as the lead Authority, St Albans, Central Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Councils have agreed in principle Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMMS) measures and costs for development within the Chiltern Beechwoods SAC. These have also been agreed with the landowner, the National Trust and Natural England as the Government’s adviser.
All potential developments within the Zone of Influence will potentially be able to utilise the SAMM solution by paying the required per dwelling figure, once this in principle position has been finalised. This is expected to be in September 2023. The developers will be required to pay a tariff of £828.61 for each new home built.
Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG)
All new developments within the Zone of Influence will also need to make provision for a new Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), or alternatively contribute towards the maintenance of a suitable SANG project elsewhere.
Larger developments (10 or more new homes) must provide their own suitable SANG that meets the guidance from Natural England. Smaller developments (1-9 homes) can contribute towards an existing SANG. A potential Council SANG site in the District has been identified and agreed in principle as being suitable with Natural England. For smaller developments (1-9 homes) applicants will be able to request use of the Council SANG solution and the Council will consider if it meets relevant criteria. If the criteria are met and capacity is available, applicants will be able to use the Council SANG solution by paying the required per dwelling figure. This position is expected to be finalised in September 2023.
Chilterns Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation
We have been advised by Natural England and Dacorum about damage to Chilterns Beechwoods Special Area of Conservation (CBSAC). The sites, impacted by high visitor numbers, are Ashridge Commons and Woods, and Tring Woodlands.
The CBSAC is in Dacorum, however, there is an impact on SADC through an area known as a Zone of Influence (ZOI). This takes in some of the western parts of our District including Redbourn.
The CBSAC has legal protection which requires tests to be met before planning approvals, which could impact on the areas, are made by the Council in the ZOI.
The Zone of Influence has an impact on our ability to grant planning permission for new residential development where there would be additional housing within the zone.
We will not be able to give permissions until an interim strategy on mitigating the impacts of such developments on the Chiltern Beechwoods is agreed. This strategy will need to consider issues such as the possible need to maintain recreational green spaces within the zone as an alternative to the Chiltern Beechwoods. Once it is in place, we will be able to make decisions on affected planning applications.
The interim strategy is not likely to be finalised until the summer months. Applicants will be disappointed as they will have to wait until then before decisions can be made on the affected proposed developments.
We appreciate this news causes some disruption and uncertainty in the planning process in the ZOI, but we are following the correct legal process to protect the Beechwoods for the future.
We’ll also need to take the interim strategy into consideration as we work on a Local Plan for the whole District, identifying land for future housing, commercial, infrastructure and Green Space development.
We will continue working with Dacorum and Natural England over the next few months to ensure that the areas to maintain their habitats and species in a healthy condition for future generations.
In the short term, we will be notifying impacted Parish Councils and applicants.
For more detailed information, please see Dacorum’s website as the lead authority on this.