A water neutrality assessment strategy for new development has been produced by Chichester District Council, in response to the water resource issues in the north of the district.
Natural England advised the council that planning applications for new development on sites supplied by Southern Water from its Sussex Water Resource Zone should demonstrate that they do not increase pressure on water resources. In other words that they are water neutral.
This followed concern that these sites are having an impact on protected sites in the Arun Valley. The increasing demand for water is thought to be harming internationally protected sites important to wildlife.
In response, the council has developed an assessment strategy for new development, which has been endorsed by Natural England. The council is now using a two staged assessment process for those making applications in the affected area. This approach allows applicants to save time and money when preparing information to support their applications, because if there is no impact, they will be immediately screened out in the first stage.
Cllr Susan Taylor, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning at Chichester District Council said: “Thankfully, the water abstraction issues only affected a small part of our district, but we were keen to look for solutions in response to Natural England’s concerns.
“This new process will enable us to quickly identify which applications can proceed further – saving householders a lot of time and money.
“Development that places further demand on abstracted water resources, such as new housing, must demonstrate water neutrality. However, this new approach provides a process that allows householders to progress with most home improvements (excluding annexes and swimming pools) and some other minor works.”