Assessment

The Scoping-Report and the Sustainability-Appraisal-Report together comprise a Sustainability Appraisal / Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Durham City Neighbourhood Plan.

The Background to the Scoping Report and the Sustainability Appraisal Report

We consulted on our Draft Neighbourhood Plan with the statutory consultees (the Environment Agency, Historic England and Natural England) in December 2016 along with a Screening Report that gave our position, with the advice and support of Durham County Council, that a Sustainability Appraisal was not necessary.

Although the Environment Agency and Natural England responded that they did not feel that a Sustainability Appraisal necessary, Historic England came to a different view and advised that a Sustainability Appraisal would be required.

Historic England’s response explained that it took this view because:

  1. the Neighbourhood Plan will come into effect before the Durham Local Plan and therefore form the most up-to-date development plan document for the area;
  2. undeveloped sites and allocations must be subject to watertight policies following environmental assessment;
  3. particular housing development sites raise concerns regarding their effects on heritage;
  4. there is insufficient information on how the impact of development would need mitigation measures;
  5. there is insufficient evidence that the potential impacts have been assessed in an area which has such a high number of designated heritage assets including sites of national and international significance.

Accordingly we have worked with our colleagues in Durham County Council to prepare the attached Scoping Report and Sustainability Appraisal Report for the Strategic Sustainability Appraisal of our Neighbourhood Plan.

Legal Background

Sustainability Appraisal (SA) is a process for assessing the social, economic and environmental impacts of a plan or programme and aims to ensure that sustainable development is at the heart of the plan-making process. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is also a systematic process to predict and assess potential impacts but focusses on specific environmental issues to ensure they are considered and integrated at the earliest opportunity. Given the similarities between the SA and SEA processes, they are often combined to avoid duplication. Such an approach is also widely recognised as best practice with regards to Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans in England. This is the approach adopted by the Forum.

3 Responses to Assessment

  1. Peter Smith says:

    I have to agree with John Ashby that this is an exceptionally well composed document and I will add comment to the areas in which I profess some expertise (others may disagree) and whilst this may go against the grain of some views I would suggest that this document invites diverse views and it would strange if all parties agreed with all proposals. A big thanks you to all concerned, it is truly an epic piece of work

  2. Peter Morgan says:

    This is an excellent document that reflects the effort and time put into it by the Neighborhood Planning Forum.
    I commend it to everyone in Durham City who has an interest in our and the city’s future.
    Thank you to the Team for working so hard on our behalf.
    I look forward to the Committees’ responses.
    It is vital that Durham is developed properly, and this is a superb start.

  3. John Ashby says:

    Phenomenal effort by all concerned.