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Recreational Access Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) tariff

Important information regarding applications for residential development submitted on or after 31 March 2022 – Payment of RAMS Tariff under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

From 1 April 2023, Norwich City Council will be applying a RAMS tariff of £210.84 (RPI linked) per property to permissions for development in the list below. 

A RAMS (Recreational Access Mitigation Strategy) tariff is a payment that is being collected across all local planning authorities in Norfolk. It will allow councils to fund a package of measures to manage and reduce the impact of people making extra visits to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the county – for example, the Wash, the Broads and the Norfolk coast. 

The council has a legal duty under the Habitats Regulations to ensure that any harm that may be caused by these additional visits is addressed and cannot grant permission unless it is satisfied that this is the case.  

Affected development types:

  • all new residential development in current site allocations and 
  • windfall (excluding replacement dwellings and extensions);
  • houses in multiple occupancy; 
  • student accommodation; 
  • residential care homes and residential institutions (excluding 
  • nursing homes); 
  • residential caravan sites / mobile homes / park homes; gypsies, 
  • travellers, and travelling showpeople plots; and 
  • residential moorings, holiday caravans, touring pitches and 
  • campsites.

Details about the charges: 

  • The tariff will be applied to the net increase in dwellings as a result of an application.  For example, if the development is to demolish two dwellings and build five on the site the tariff will be charged on three dwellings (3 x £210.84 = £632.52).
  • For applications for student accommodation, the tariff will be charged on the basis that 2.5 student bedspaces equate to 1 household. The tariff for a development of 250 student bedspaces would therefore be ((250/2.5) x £210.84 = £21,084).
  • For applications for tourist accommodation, such as hotels, the tariff will be charged per 6 bedspaces. The tariff for a 50-bed hotel would therefore be ((50/6) x £210.84 = £1,757)
  • The tariff will be charged on change of use applications
  • The tariff will be charged on applications for prior approval. These are decisions for which the council as a competent authority under the Habitats Regs and the impact of any increase in dwellings arising from such applications upon protected areas must be mitigated.

In order to validate any applications, we will require a Unilateral Undertaking to be submitted with the documents accompanying the application.  A template Unilateral Undertaking is available. For residential developments of more than 10 homes that would attract affordable housing contributions via a Section 106 agreement, the RAMS tariff may be dealt with in the same agreement.

Failure to mitigate against the impact of a development upon protected areas can be a reason for refusal.

Why are we doing this?

To ensure that the Council continues to meet its legal duty under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, on 9 March the Council adopted the Norfolk Green Infrastructure and Recreational Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (GIRAMS) and the collection of related obligations from applications for residential development, and other relevant development proposals, in accordance with the GIRAMS evidence and Policy 3 of the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP).

What is GIRAMS?

Where an adverse effect on a habitat site cannot be ruled out, and where there are no alternative solutions, the plan or project can only proceed if compensatory measures are secured, which mitigate these effects. 

The extra visitors to these sites and the impact on habitats is a cross-boundary issue affecting all local plans in Norfolk, including the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP). 

Assessment work carried out has identified that residential and other housing, such as tourist accommodation, will likely impact on designated habitat sites – and this needs to be avoided as much as possible through the provision of open spaces and also mitigated by a package of measures at these Special Areas of Conservation. 

Compensatory measures have been identified in the GIRAMS, which was commissioned on behalf of all Norfolk councils, as part of the Duty to Cooperate. 

The requirement to seek tariff contributions (referred to the RAMS tariff) towards mitigation measures at designated habitat sites themselves and to provide appropriate contributions to green infrastructure are included within Policy 3 of the GNLP.

Policy 3 includes the following requirement: 

All residential development will address the potential visitor pressure, caused by residents of the development, that would detrimentally impact on sites protected under the Habitats Regulations Directive through: 

  • the payment of a contribution towards the cost of mitigation measures at the protected sites (as determined under the Norfolk Green infrastructure and Recreational Impact Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy plus an allowance for inflation); and, 
  • the provision or enhancement of adequate green infrastructure, either on the development site or nearby, to provide for the informal recreational needs of the residents as an alternative to visiting the protected sites. This will equate to a minimum of 2 hectares per 1,000 population and will reflect Natural England’s Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard.

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