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Development management policies

DM1 Sustainable development principles for Norwich

Policy DM1 Achieving and delivering sustainable development

Subject to the detailed policies which follow, development proposals will be expected (through their design, configuration, visual appearance, location, means of access and spatial and functional relationship to existing uses and facilities), to:

  • enhance and extend accessible opportunities for employment, education and training, stimulate competition and support business whilst enabling balanced, sustainable economic growth in the Norwich economy;
  • protect and enhance the physical, environmental and heritage assets of the city and to safeguard the special visual and environmental qualities of Norwich for all users;
  • help to combat the effects of climate change and achieve national and local carbon reduction targets by making the most efficient practicable use of resources, minimising the overall need to travel, reducing dependency on the private car and high-emission vehicles and ensuring ease of access to facilities and services for all users both now and in the future;
  • provide for a high level of safety and security, maximising opportunities for improved health and well-being and safeguarding the interests of the elderly and vulnerable groups;
  • help to promote mixed, diverse, inclusive and equitable communities, by increasing opportunities for social interaction, community cohesion, cultural participation and lifelong learning.

In determining applications for development the council will afford equal weight to the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainability as expressed through this policy.

Supplementary text

1.1.     Sustainable development is at the heart of the DM policies plan. To this end the plan must set out positive, proactive policies for the assessment of planning applications for new development. Making full use of detailed local evidence, the plan’s policies must respond to the needs of the area. The policies must not just cover short term issues as they will apply to decisions made up to 2026, covering a period of substantial change for Norwich. The decisions informed by the plan must support the strategic objectives and implement the planning policies of the JCS for greater Norwich to deliver sustainable, balanced growth over the wider Norwich area for the benefit of all its residents.

1.2      At the same time we must ensure that its policies take full account of the overarching planning principles set out in the NPPF. A presumption in favour of sustainable development is now enshrined in national planning policy and is fundamental to the success of the growth strategy for greater Norwich. To this end the city council will promote, support and encourage sustainable development proposals with demonstrable outcomes that help to meet the spatial planning objectives set out in the vision and objectives section above and which will secure sustainable development in accordance with the NPPF.

1.3.     When considering development proposals the council will take a positive approach that reflects this presumption. It will always work proactively and positively with prospective developers, businesses, community representatives and local stakeholders to negotiate and bring forward quality development solutions which mean that proposals can be approved wherever possible and which will maximise sustainable economic, environmental and social benefits for Norwich, taking account of the stated objectives of the JCS and the sustainable development priorities set out in policy DM1 which reinforce and interpret them locally.

1.4.     It is acknowledged that the extent of documentation and supporting information necessary to make an informed assessment of proposals will vary widely between applications and some will be significantly more complex than others. Also, where there is substantial public interest in a proposal the number and complexity of representations received and the need to refer applications to councillors for determination will all have a bearing on the total length of time taken to reach a decision. Some of these factors may fall outside the control of the council.

1.5.     However, subject to being able to address any unforeseen delays arising within the planning application process and the extent of resources available to do so, every effort will be made to ensure that planning applications which accord with the policies in this plan (and in the Site allocations plan and relevant neighbourhood plans) can be approved without delay, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Where there are no policies relevant to the application or relevant policies are out of date at the time of making the decision then the council will grant permission unless material considerations indicate otherwise – taking into account whether:

  • any adverse impacts of granting permission would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) taken as a whole; or
  • specific policies in that framework indicate that development should be restricted.

1.6.     The success of the council’s planning strategy in the past (implemented through the City of Norwich replacement local plan and its predecessors) has been grounded in strong, robust, responsive and flexible policies which have delivered substantial dividends for Norwich. They have enabled significant economic growth and new development to be planned and targeted to those areas of the city where they are most beneficial, supporting and enhancing communities, addressing deprivation, fostering urban regeneration, providing and improving essential services and facilities within the city centre and local centres and ensuring that the heritage and environmental assets which give Norwich its unique character and sense of place are protected and enhanced.

1.7.     However, this plan recognises that sustainable development cannot be achieved without a measure of positive management, regulation and negotiation. This plan seeks to ensure that sustainable development can be delivered for the long-term, ensuring that the potentially harmful impacts of new building and new uses and activities can be reduced, the quality of the built and natural environment raised, environmental and heritage assets protected and the wider advantages of growth made available to all sectors of the community rather than disproportionately favouring particular groups or sectors (such as only being available to those who have access to a car). For this plan to be effective, all parties in the development process are expected to ensure that new development is sustainable, delivering benefits for the community now but not compromising the ability of future generations to continue to reap those benefits.

1.8.     Development and economic growth, though desirable and necessary, is not sustainable in itself unless its economic benefits are considered alongside its environmental and social impacts. Norwich will not benefit from badly designed, inappropriately located or poorly conceived proposals which clearly fail to deliver on sustainable development objectives. Those charged with making planning decisions in the public interest – be they local authority planners, local councillors or community representatives bringing forward the new generation of neighbourhood plans – must therefore ensure that the economic, environmental and social dimensions of proposed development and its relative impacts are fully considered and that a careful and responsible balance is struck between them.

1.9.     No single development proposal is likely to deliver benefits equally in all areas, however by setting out a small number of key criteria setting out the expectations for all new development, policy DM1 seeks to ensure that these aspects are fully taken into account. The requirements of policy DM1 should be balanced through the development process and the council will expect all relevant development to take account of them.

  • NPPF: CLG, 2012: Achieving sustainable development; paragraphs 6-10; The presumption in favour of sustainable development, paragraphs 11-16.
  • National Planning Practice Guidance, CLG 2014.
  • Securing the future - Delivering UK Sustainable Development Strategy, DEFRA, 2011.