The Exe Estuary and the East Devon Pebble bed Heaths Special Protection Areas (SPA's) provide an important recreational resource for the local community. However, they are sensitive environments which area important to nature conservation and are subject to European wildlife site designations. We have a responsibility under European Habitat Regulations to assess and seek to minimise the impacts of new development on these habitats. A recent study has shown that recreational use of the estuary and pebble bed heaths is already having a significant effect on the levels of disturbance of wildlife. New housing and tourist accommodation will lead to increased recreational demands on the environment.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is intended to raise funding for the crucial infrastructure that is needed to support new development. Only a part of the identified Habitat Mitigation suite of projects are infrastructure projects (funding secured via CIL) the remaining are non-infrastructure projects and payment for these are required alongside the CIL payment and via either a Unilateral Undertaking or a S111 form and up-front payment.
In partnership with Natural England, the council and its neighbouring authorities of Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council have determined that housing and tourist accommodation developments in their areas will in-combination have a detrimental impact on the Exe Estuary and Pebble bed Heaths through impacts from recreational use. The impacts are highest from developments within 10 kilometres of these SPA's. It is therefore essential that mitigation is secured to make such developments permissible. View our map to see if your site is within 10 kilometres of the SPA boundaries.
Please find below Unilateral Undertaking templates for completion in circumstances where habitat contributions only are required (residential developments of 5 or less units in the rural area 10 units or less in the urban areas):
Please note that if there is a mortgagee on the property (i.e. the property is subject to a mortgage), the lender will also need to sign up to the agreement.
S.111 Form and up-front payment
If you do not want to enter into a Unilateral undertaking, you can pay the mitigation in advance by card or cheque with your planning application.
The owner will also need to complete (see highlighted areas and note the need to provide a plan identifying the site) and sign one of the following S.111 Forms to confirm that you understand certain conditions including that the cheque will be cashed immediately:
The contribution will be returned upon request in the event that:
- Planning permission is refused for The Development and six months has elapsed from the date of that decision without a planning appeal having been made; or
- The Development has not been commenced and the planning permission is no longer capable of being implemented;
- Any Planning Appeal submitted in respect of The Development has been dismissed.
Mitigation for recreational impacts can take the form of access management within the European sites, or provision of substantial alternative recreation locations to draw users away from the European sites. To make it easier for developers to 'deliver' such mitigation, in many cases we will accept a financial contribution per new house or holiday unit. The three local planning authorities will work in partnership to use these financial contributions to deliver the required mitigation measures. Alternatively, a developer may choose to provide their own mitigation measures rather than pay the contribution.
Similar approaches have been used successfully adopted for other European wildlife sites (For example, The Thames Basin Heaths, The Dorset Heaths and Breckland).
An Appropriate Assessment (AA) may also be needed for other impacts from accommodation or from non-accommodation developments, for example, discharge of surface water to the SPA or disturbance during construction. In such instances additional information may be needed from the applicant before the AA can be completed and hence before a decision can be issued.