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Development of brownfield sites and developments with sensitive end uses

The Environmental Protection Team is a statutory consultee to the NHDC Planning Control Service. The team is routinely consulted on the following:

  • proposed developments at sites with a land use history that may have resulted in ground contamination
  • proposed developments with an intended end use that is considered to be particularly sensitive to contamination, for example housing, schools, hospitals and children's play areas.

In both of the above circumstances, the team provides advice to Planning Control about:

  • whether sufficient information has been provided with the application to enable the applicant to assess the risk posed to the proposed development by contamination.
  • whether that information indicates that the development is possible in terms of the presence, or likely presence, of contamination.
  • where the information provided is sufficient and indicates that the proposed development is feasible; then the team may recommend a planning condition to be placed on any conditional permission that may be granted for the proposed development. These conditions will be recommended to ensure that any contamination issues identified by the initially submitted information are appropriately dealt with during the development.
  • where there is no information provided or where that information is considered to be insufficient then the team will recommend refusal of the planning application with an objection on the grounds that it is not possible to demonstrate that the risk of pollution to human health and the environment will be acceptable.

It is encouraged that developers make contact with the Environmental Protection Team prior to making a planning application, as part of their pre-application discussions with Planning Control.

In association with the Environment Agency and the other local authorities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, the Council has jointly published the below advice note. It summarises responsibilities, contact details and the phased approach to the assessment of the environmental risk when developing on land that may be affected by contamination, or developing for end uses sensitive to contamination.

The advice note is routinely referenced with notification of any planning decisions by the Planning Officers. However it is recommended that this advice note is considered prior to submitting a planning application because North Hertfordshire District Council is committed to encouraging as much information to be provided about the possible presence of contamination before a formal application is submitted. The reasons for this are:

  1. Paragraph 179 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes it clear that where a site is affected by contamination it is the responsibility of the developer to secure a safe development.
  2. It can enable any problems to be identified early in the process, which should reduce the likelihood of unexpected problems and delays at later stages of a development.

The Council is mindful of the potential cost implications of a formal land contamination assessment and investigation. Therefore, the Council has prepared a questionnaire to be completed by planning applicants for small (1 or 2 house) housing developments on existing residential or green-field sites. The information contained in completed questionnaires is then used to determine whether a more formal assessment of land contamination is necessary.

Contact details

Contact the Environmental Protection Team