Shropshire Star

Council to create new planning and building control platform for biodiversity rules

Telford & Wrekin Council is working with a software developer for a new planning and building control platform as it prepares to carry out added legislation on biodiversity.

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The council says the system will be designed to hold data and prepare specific reports for the planning process.

It comes as updated legislative and national guidance relevant to Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) will see developers required to improve a gain of 10 per cent on-site or pay for the off-site equivalent.

The council’s environmental committee decided at its meeting on Tuesday night to increase that figure to 20 per cent. This was due to the legislation allowing councils to set locally derived levels and interpretation to guide development.

As part of the legislation, the council will be required to monitor and report on the delivery of BNG.

A report to the environment committee said: “The local planning authority is in a unique position as the service are currently working with a software developer for a new planning and building control platform that is expected to be live by the end of 2024.

“The system will be designed in accordance with the secondary legislation to hold data and prepare specific reports. It is intended to import and present the Biodiversity Metric; ensure that the habitat management and monitoring plans are available on the public file, holding any updated versions, and providing a clear audit trail; the system will keep track of what is due by when, prompting where required to help the LPA enforce.

“This limits the need and costs for further software, and avoids complications associated with another layer of software integration.”

Cabinet member for green spaces, Councillor Carolyn Healy, said that the council was working with a national company on the platform.

The Government has provided a ‘New Burdens Funding’ grant of £20,000 to Telford & Wrekin Council on an annual basis to help prepare for the additional duties.

Councillor Healy added that the council was in the third year of the funding, which has allowed it to increase staff levels.

She said the council would set the biodiversity net gain metrics out before monitoring their delivery over 30 years. Developers will contribute towards the monitoring costs through Section 106 financial agreements.