North Somerset Local Plan 2038 Preferred Options

North Somerset Local Plan Preferred Options: Consultation Draft March 2022

Historic and Natural Environment

Policy DP31: Green Infrastructure

New development must make adequate provision for green infrastructure including the enhancement of existing provision where appropriate. The scale and extent required will depend on the nature of the development and the existing quantity and quality of provision in the locality. For example, requirements will be higher for large-scale proposals of 10 dwellings or more, particularly where there is a lack of green infrastructure, or there are opportunities to create or improve green infrastructure networks.

Green infrastructure should be of high quality, well designed and accessible and reflect the strategic green infrastructure corridors, key green infrastructure assets, and the Nature Recovery Network.

Proposals will, where appropriate, ensure that green infrastructure:

  • Is multi-functional;
  • Integrates sustainable drainage infrastructure;
  • Is part of a connected green and/or blue infrastructure network;
  • Retains and incorporates important wildlife or heritage features;
  • Maximises the opportunity to respond to climate change and meet biodiversity net gain requirements;
  • Is designed to enable the community to actively use it for formal and informal sport, recreation and play, and as an outdoor education resource; and
  • Is located and designed to promote and enhance place making, community cohesion, local diversity and distinctiveness.

Where it is not possible, practical or desirable for green infrastructure provision or enhancement to be made on site, then adequate measures for off-site provision will be made, which may involve formal agreements and financial contributions.

Provision for maintenance of green infrastructureincluding play facilities within it, will also be required, such as commuted sums if it is to be adopted by North Somerset Council.


The NPPF defines Green Infrastructure (GI) as 'a network of multi-functional green and blue spaces and other natural features, urban and rural, which is capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic, health and wellbeing benefits for nature, climate, local and wider communities and prosperity.'

The National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG) states that GI is a natural capital asset providing multiple benefits including enhanced wellbeing, outdoor recreation and access, enhanced biodiversity and landscapes, food and energy production, urban cooling, and the management of flood risk (Natural environment section paragraph 005).

GI has value in helping mitigate against climate change, (NPPF paragraph 154) and air quality, (paragraph 186). Conservation and enhancement of GI is advocated in the NPPF paragraphs 20 and 175, and provision of safe and accessible green infrastructure in paragraph 92 (c).

The NPPG refers to the need for early consideration of GI provision in development management, including securing and funding of GI, its sustainable management and maintenance, perhaps through planning conditions, obligations or CIL.

The North Somerset Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan identifies the need to replenish carbon stores in the district. GI is relevant since it involves providing and maintaining areas of vegetation and trees. The Action Plan refers to the need to develop and implement the North Somerset Council Green Infrastructure Strategy (GIS)

The GIS objectives include 'improved and better-connected ecological networks: protect, enhance and expand coherent, thriving and resilient ecological networks that deliver net gains in biodiversity and ecosystem services, including the creation of bigger, better, more and joined-up woodland, grassland and wetland habitats to achieve the ambitions of the West of England Nature Recovery Network'.

The GIS identifies indicative strategic GI in the district such as key GI assets and corridors and opportunities for improving GI within that strategic network, (though other opportunities for doing this elsewhere may exist).

The key GI assets and corridors are based on underlying GI asset mapping, and partly reflect the WENP Nature Recovery Network (NRN). The NRN includes a West of England map, showing existing broad woodland, grassland and water habitats, the woodland, grassland and water strategic networks which could be enhanced, and specific locations where there are opportunities to improve these types of habitats regarding connectivity etc.

The GIS (page 53) states that 'planning and development can positively contribute to the strategic GI network through developer contributions (planning obligations); provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG); biodiversity net gain; carbon offsetting and nitrate/phosphate offsetting.

Policy DP31 requires new development to provide for GI, taking account of its nature and scale. Even small scale developments could enhance GI by including green open space with trees, perhaps safe blue infrastructure such as shallow ponds, as part of sustainable drainage systems. They could also include natural solutions such as green roofs covered with vegetation, which provide sound and heat insulation for buildings, and absorb rainwater, so reducing flood risk.

There is greater scope for larger developments of 10 dwellings or more, which will need to make provision for multifunctional GI which respects and enhances the character and distinctiveness of the area. This will be particularly important if the site affects the strategic GI network identified in the GIS, such as strategic GI corridors. Measures could involve retaining, enhancing and linking habitats on and off the application site, having regard to the GIS and Nature Recovery Network. They could include providing or improving the quality of accessible open space, (such as playing fields) and providing sustainable drainage systems which manage water quantity and quality, and also provide amenity and biodiversity value where possible.

Developers should have regard to GI requirements set out in masterplans and design codes.

GI may be located within strategic gaps between settlements where it can help to contribute to the separate identity and landscape setting of the settlements.

Policy DP32: Nature conservation

Development proposals must take account of their impact on local biodiversity and identify appropriate mitigation measures to safeguard or enhance attributes of ecological importance. Where appropriate, proposals should seek to conserve the local natural environment by retaining, protecting, enhancing and linking existing wildlife habitats; by incorporating retained habitats sensitively into the development through appropriate design; and by ensuring that such retained and enhanced habitats are managed appropriately. Where necessary, longer term management will be achieved through suitable planning conditions.

Sites of international and national importance

Development which would have an adverse impact on identified sites of international importance (which include Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Ramsar sites) will not be permitted.

A Bat Consultation Zone for the North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC identifies bands within which differing requirements apply, notably for bat surveys, and is defined on the Policies Map.

The Severn Estuary SAC, SPA and Ramsar site is defined on the Policies Map. Any proposals that could affect the sensitive bird species and other habitats and species of the Estuary will need to carry out adequate surveys and assessments of the cumulative, in-combination and offsite impacts (such as drainage, disturbance, runoff and impacts on managed realignment) of the scheme. Development within or in proximity to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or National Nature Reserve that is likely to have a direct or indirect adverse effect on its biodiversity or geological interest would not normally be permitted.

Local Nature Reserves and Local Sites

Development will not normally be permittedwhich would result in the loss in extent or otherwise have a significant adverse effect on Local Nature Reserves or Local Sites (locally designated Wildlife Sites and Geological Sites), unless the harm can be mitigated by appropriate measures.

Legally Protected Species and Habitats and Species of Principal Importance in England - Priority Habitats and Species

Development which could harm, directly or indirectly, species which are legally protected, or species and habitats that have been identified as Species or Habitats of Principal Importance in England (also known as Section 41 or 'Priority' species and habitats) will not be permitted unless the harm can be avoided or mitigated by appropriate measures. Development proposals should ensure that, where appropriate, provision is made for:

  • Any lighting scheme to avoid adverse impacts on light-averse wildlife;
  • Retention of native woodland, native trees (to include veteran trees), native hedgerows, watercourses, ponds, rhynes, other wetland habitats such as reedbeds, botanically diverse grasslands, traditional orchards, geological features, and other major natural features, habitats or wildlife corridors and buffers, and their protection during construction work;
  • Protection of ecosystem resources including measures to ensure no detriment to water quality;
  • Compensatory provision, within the site itself, or immediate vicinity if practicable, of at least equivalent biodiversity value, where the loss of habitats or features of importance to wild flora and fauna is unavoidable;
  • Incorporation of habitat features of value to wildlife within the development and building design, including those which meet the needs of local species (such as provision of nesting features for swifts, swallows, house sparrows, bats);
  • Appropriate long term management of retained and newly created features of importance to wildlife;
  • Provision of monitoring of key species to evaluate impact of site management;
  • Planting of locally appropriate native species of local origin wherever possible; and
  • Measures to link habitats within the development and also that link into adjoining wildlife corridor networks.

Ecological mitigation measures provided within the development

Where development proposals may impact legally protected and notable species and habitats, they will need to be accompanied by an up-to-date ecological survey assessment as part of the submitted application. This will include:

  • Site context information provided by a local records data search of designated sites, legally protected and notable species in proximity;
  • A description of the biodiversity interest of the site, to include current land use and including, where applicable, regard for any Strategic Nature Areas;
  • The nature and extent of the impact on legally protected species and habitats, Section 41 species and habitats, or other notable species, of the proposed development or change of use of land, and the measures that may be needed to avoid, mitigate or, as a last resort, compensate the identified impacts;
  • The steps to be taken to retain, protect, enhance, link and, where appropriate, create and manage the biodiversity interest over the longer term and which may include monitoring; and
  • Where necessary effective lighting design to avoid artificial light spill to wildlife habitats/corridors to avoid impacts on light-averse wildlife.


North Somerset contains four sites of European importance, designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). These are the North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC, Mendip Limestone Grasslands SAC, Avon Gorge Woodlands SAC and the Severn Estuary SAC. The Severn Estuary is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), due to the internationally important assemblages of overwintering/wading birds that it supports and is also designated as a Ramsar site, as it is an internationally important wetland.

The council's North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC Guidance on Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) explains how development activities can impact the SAC and the steps required to avoid or mitigate any impacts. A Bat Consultation Zone around maternity and hibernation horseshoe bat roosts identifies bands within which differing requirements apply, notably for bat surveys.

It is important to protect greater and lesser horseshoe bat navigation and foraging habitats (including key habitats for insect prey such as cattle grazed pastures and wetlands). This will help ensure that roosts continue to be viable and maintained in 'favourable condition' and that populations of horseshoe bats are maintained. Horseshoe bats are known to be light sensitive requiring unlit, intrinsically dark navigation routes and foraging habitats.

Any proposals with potential to directly or indirectly impact on a European site/SSSI will be subject to consultation with the government's statutory nature conservation body, Natural England.

There are statutory controls relating to biodiversity. For example, Habitats Regulation Assessment may be required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which relate to Articles 6(3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive, where a planning application could impact on the integrity of a European Site such as SPAs, SACs and Ramsar sites.

North Somerset also supports other European protected species that are rare or declining across Europe, notably hazel dormouse, otter, a wide diversity of bat species and great crested newt.

The overall aim is to contribute to the international and national objective to halt loss of biodiversity, by the protection and creation of key habitats and the maintenance of linked, coherent ecological networks, so that populations of species are not isolated and thereby made vulnerable to local extinction.

Important ecological networks within North Somerset include the network of rhynes (wet ditches and their associated banks and marginal habitats) locally characteristic of the North Somerset Levels and Moors landscape, and which link to other key local wetland habitats such as reedbeds and wet woodlands (alder and willow), and to the watercourse networks/ catchments of the district and adjoining areas. Such networks are important for species such as otter, water vole and kingfisher.

On higher ground, notably on the limestone ridges, there are extensive networks of tall native hedgerows and tree lines, which are significant in providing key habitat links between woodlands for woodland species such as dormouse, as well as providing navigation routes for bats from breeding and hibernation roosts to insect rich foraging habitats.

It is essential that key habitats are linked to allow migration and interbreeding of populations of local key species. Linear corridors of taller grassland and herbaceous vegetation (provided by road verge networks, cycle routes, public rights of way routes) are also important wildlife corridors for migration and dispersal. These locally characteristic habitats have contributed to the continued presence of rare species within North Somerset and need to be protected if this area is to continue to be a significant stronghold for many of these species.

Retained and enhanced habitats will ensure the continued functionality of essential ecosystem services, such as flood storage, flood attenuation and crop pollination (provided by local populations of insect pollinators).

Policy DP33: Biodiversity Net Gain

Development (except exempt development) must demonstrate at least a 10% net gain for biodiversity, accounted for in a biodiversity net gain (BNG) plan.

Where BNG is to be delivered the biodiversity net gain plan is likely to include a management plan, particularly for larger developments, setting out how habitats will be managed and monitored, with funding and reporting for a minimum of 30 years. Legal agreements are likely to be necessary, particularly where BNG is to be delivered through an offsetting scheme.


Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) 'is the achievement of measurable gains for biodiversity through new development and occurs when a development leaves biodiversity in a better state than before development' (WoE BNG Guidance). It requires developers to demonstrate an increase in biodiversity value compared to the pre-development baseline. The Environment Act 2021 introduced a statutory requirement for most development to deliver 10% biodiversity net gain.

The NPPF paragraph 174 states that planning policies and decisions 'should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by...(d)minimising impacts on and providing net gains for biodiversity, including by establishing coherent ecological networks that are more resilient to current and future pressures'.

Biodiversity net gain and enhancement of ecological networks also complies with the Council's Green Infrastructure Strategy, which includes the objective of 'improved and better-connected ecological networks: protect, enhance and expand coherent, thriving and resilient ecological networks that deliver net gains in biodiversity and ecosystem services'.

The exceptions (for which a BNG assessment is not needed) are:

  • Permitted Development as defined in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015).
  • Householder applications as defined in The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010.

BNG assessments and their outcomes will be a material consideration in planning applications. There will be grounds for refusing planning applications when a development cannot demonstrate BNG.

Biodiversity net gain is calculated by deducting the pre-development biodiversity value (the baseline) of land affected, from the predicted post-development biodiversity value,

Sufficient new habitat or habitat enhancement should be created, on or off site, to result in a 10% gain. BNG can be achieved in various ways, and might include planting hedgerows or trees along existing public rights of way, as green corridors, for example.

DEFRA and Natural England produced a Biodiversity Metric 3.0 and this, (or any subsequent version) should provide a suitable methodology for the calculation. The calculation and BNG assessment must be set out in a biodiversity net gain plan, including data and maps, preferably completed by a suitably qualified ecologist, accompanying the planning application. The assessment will be checked by the Council's ecologists or its appointed representatives. This should aid collation and reporting of overall biodiversity change in North Somerset.

Developers should liaise with the Council on requirements. It is likely that the Council will prepare a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) on BNG, setting out more detailed guidance.

The pre-development biodiversity (baseline) value of a habitat on a site is calculated at the time of the planning application submission. It takes account of the type of habitat, its distinctiveness and condition, strategic location, (perhaps within an area identified for biodiversity enhancement in a Local Plan or Nature Recovery Network), and degree of connectivity.

Similar factors are considered for calculating the post development value, but with allowances for risks regarding difficulty, uncertainty etc. involved in creating new habitat and achieving net gain.

The Environment Act (Schedule 14) allows planning authorities to ascertain a site's habitats and their condition on 30th January 2020 (when the Bill entered Parliament). They could use aerial imagery or data sets from that time. They can thus recognise any habitat degradation, such as clearance of a site, which has occurred since then, and take the earlier(pre-degradation) habitat state as the baseline value.

When offset sites are used for BNG, (where some or all of the BNG is provided off the development site itself) the calculation will need to consider the existing biodiversity value of the offset site.

Loss of most priority habitat is expressly 'unacceptable' in the metric and bespoke compensation for the loss of priority habitat is likely to be required. Any planning permission granted will require the developer to provide a mechanism, to deliver the BNG, via planning conditions or planning agreements.

Developers must secure adequate funding and management for the creation and/or enhancement of habitats needed to deliver BNG. Particularly for larger developments the BNG assessment may need to include a management plan detailing this over the long term. Post-development monitoring may be required (likely for high /moderate distinctiveness habitat).

Typically for larger developments the developer can nominate a delivery agent to deliver the habitats required for BNG, which might be the Council or a management company to provide/manage the habitat or habitat bank. This funding/management will cover a minimum of 30 years of management, with costs paid directly to the delivery agent.

Policy DP34: Trees and Woodlands

Development proposals affecting existing trees must demonstrate that:

  • Trees have been considered throughout the design and development process, including the retention, protection and enhancement of tree canopy cover;
  • The short and longer-term impacts that the development may have on existing trees has been evaluated;
  • The long-term retention of appropriate trees is realistic. The future growth of tree canopy and roots should be fully accounted for when designing:

(i) the location, spacing and orientation of buildings, gardens and green spaces;

(ii) the location of underground services;

(iii) the relative positions of trees and windows for light;

(iv) specific issues relating to tree species (such as aphid honeydew, fruit drop, density of canopy, leaves and needles);

(v) future management requirements and accessibility.

  • High quality physical protection of retained trees is provided;
  • The engineering requirements to accommodate existing trees and future tree growth in relation to building foundation design can be complied with;
  • Plans are provided for the management of wooded areas that balances the protection and enhancement of biodiversity with increased opportunities for recreation and play; and
  • Ancient woodland and veteran/ancient trees are protected.

Development proposals involving new tree planting must demonstrate that:

  • Appropriate new tree planting and woodland creation is provided as an integral part of the design and landscaping of new developments, using native species of local origin wherever possible;
  • Provision is made for new large-growing street and open space trees that are planted in high-quality tree pit designs, which maximise tree health and minimise future maintenance of the street surface;
  • The engineering requirements to accommodate tree planting and future tree growth in relation to building foundation design are complied with;
  • The equivalent of a minimum of one tree per dwelling is planted, to be located in gardens where practical;
  • For major developments the opportunity for community orchard planting is created;
  • An initial tree maintenance specification has been identified for new trees to ensure they thrive and grow to healthy maturity;
  • In exceptional circumstances where loss is unavoidable and fully justified, a suitable compensation strategy for replacement of trees, hedgerows, or to rectify damage (direct or indirect) to woodland is identified;
  • Proposals for off-site provision is made where tree planting is not appropriate or practical on site; and
  • All new residential development proposals include street tree planting into every street, using suitable species planted at intervals appropriate for the site.

The Council will use Tree Preservation Orders where appropriate to protect newly planted trees.


This policy covers both protection of existing trees and woodland, and new planting. Proposed developments will be expected to demonstrate that they adhere to the procedures and principles set out in British Standard 5837 (Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations).

Where the loss of trees is unavoidable to allow for appropriate development, a suitable number and species of replacement trees should be provided, to compensate for the loss in canopy cover. The loss of trees on any proposed site that has occurred 24 months prior to an application being submitted will require compensatory planting in addition to other planting requirements.

The number of trees required to compensate for loss of existing trees depends upon the size of the trees to be lost. This is set out in the following table:

 Trunk Diameter of Tree lost to development (cm measured at 1.5 metres above ground level)  Number of Replacement Trees
 Less than 15  0-1


More detailed guidance on trees and development will be set out in supplementary guidance.

Policy DP35: Landscape

The character, sense of place, distinctiveness, and diversity of North Somerset's landscape and townscape will be protected and enhanced by the sensitive design and management of development.

New development must retain and enhance the separate identities of towns and villages and particular attention will be given to aspects of the historic environment which contribute to the distinctive character of North Somerset, such as the Victorian townscapes and seafronts in Weston and Clevedon.

All development proposals should:

  • Not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the landscape character of the district and particularly that of the detailed landscape character areas;
  • Respond to the distinctive qualities of the landscape including the nationally registered and unregistered Historic Parks and Gardens;
  • Be carefully integrated into the natural, built and historic environment, aiming to establish a strong sense of place, respond to local character, and reflect the identity of local surroundings, whilst minimising landscape impact;
  • Respect the tranquillity of an area;
  • Include appropriate landscaping and boundary treatments as part of development proposals;
  • Conserve and enhance natural or semi-natural vegetation characteristic of the area;
  • Respect the character of the historic landscape including features such as field patterns, watercourses, drainage ditches, stone walls and hedgerows; and
  • Where outdoor lighting is proposed adopt a lighting scheme which minimises obtrusive light, particularly where dark skies are an important feature of the area.

Where some harm to the local landscape character is unavoidable, but a development is otherwise deemed beneficial, then positive mitigation measures should be secured by a landscape condition or planning agreement involving works on or off-site as necessary.


The policy recognises the importance of North Somerset's landscape, and the need to protect and enhance its diversity, distinctiveness and quality.

The landscape of North Somerset is highly varied, containing within it sections of four of the Countryside Agency/English Nature's National Character Areas (Bristol, Avon Valleys and Ridges; Severn and Avon Vales; Mendip Hills; Somerset Levels and Moors). These give a broad indication of the landscapes of the district which range from the carboniferous limestone uplands of the Mendips to the level, wet pasturelands of the levels and moors.

At a more detailed level the district's landscape character is described in the Landscape Character Assessment Supplementary Planning Document which was adopted in 2018. It shows that North Somerset is characterised by a diversity of landscapes represented by the following 11 landscape types, (which are broken down into 31 landscape character areas):

A. Moors;

B. River floodplain;

C. Settled coastal edge;

D. Limestone gorges;

E. Limestone ridges and combes;

F. Sandstone uplands;

G. Settled limestone plateau;

H. Settled hills;

J. Rolling valley farmland;

K. Farmed coal measures;

L. Inter-tidal bays.

The policy is intended to ensure that development does not adversely affect landscape character. Development should contribute to the creation of places and spaces which are attractive, respect and enhance the particular local character of the landscape and are designed with the needs of people in mind.

When considering development proposals, the Council will take account of the character of the landscape and will resist development that would have an unacceptable adverse impact on the landscape character or quality of the area in which it is sited.

Within urban areas, townscapes are potentially affected by development proposals which can impact on the character of the area. The amount, type and quality of landscaping such as boundary treatments, can make a significant difference, as can provision of green space in the form of gardens. Similarly, in public areas, parks, public gardens and street trees make a potential contribution to the environment and quality of life. Therefore, development proposals, particularly residential intensification through the use of garden land ('garden grabbing') must be carefully assessed against the harm they may cause to the character of the local environment.

In all cases where development is permitted, the Council will ensure new development is of high quality design and that, where applicable, landscape features are incorporated as part of such schemes.

Proposals that improve the quality of the North Somerset landscape by carrying out tree planting or other enhancement works will be encouraged.

NPPF paragraph 185 states that planning policies and decisions should aim to 'identify and protect areas of tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason'. Tranquillity can be defined as areas which have an absence of buildings and human presence, for example an absence of noise and visual intrusion from major infrastructure such as motorways and A roads, urban areas and airports.

The policy also refers to adopting outdoor lighting which minimises obtrusive light particularly where dark skies are an important feature of the area.

Where required the applicant should set out in any supporting documents such as the Design and Access Statement, that regard has been taken of the local landscape and how this has been incorporated into a final design solution. This may need to be supported by photomontages or similar visuals. Where relevant it should cover the impact on the tranquillity of an area, and an assessment of whether the proposal would result in light pollution.

Policy DP36: Green spaces not designated as Local Green Space

Within settlement boundaries development proposals affecting undesignated green spaces will be acceptable provided they do not have a detrimental impact on green infrastructure by adversely affecting spaces which make a worthwhile contribution to amenity and/or the townscape, character, setting, visual attractiveness of the settlement.


This policy will apply to areas of both public and private undesignated green space (those not defined as Local Green Space) within settlements with defined settlement limits, which are considered nevertheless to be of value in making a worthwhile contribution to the townscape, character, setting and visual attractiveness of the settlement.

Protection of such green spaces is consistent with the NPPF, particularly as they often make an important contribution to the network of green infrastructure within settlements.

Townscape is a term embracing a number of factors, such as the importance of green space in the street scene, in breaking up and adding variety within the urban fabric and in enhancing the setting of buildings and other features.

Policy DP37: Mendip Hills AONB

Development proposals affecting the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) must conserve and enhance its landscape and scenic beauty and enhance its wildlife and cultural heritage, taking into account the economic and social well-being of the area.

Major development will not be permitted other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest.

Development which would have an adverse impact on the landscape, setting and scenic beauty of the Mendip Hills AONB, including views into and out of the AONB, will not be permitted unless in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that it is in the public interest.All development will be controlled,through the use of planning conditions, to ensure it would minimise anydetrimental effectto the natural beauty of the AONB.

Proposals which meet the economic needs of local communities and meet demand for recreation will still need to be consistent with the conservation of that natural beauty.

Particular attention will be given to the siting, scale, size, character, design, materials and landscaping of the proposed development, views to and from the AONB, as well as conservation of wildlife and cultural heritage.

Outdoor lighting schemes will not be permitted in the AONB unless it has been demonstrated that there will be no adverse impact from obtrusive light. Particular care will be taken in those parts of the AONB where dark skies are an important feature of the area. The impact of indoor lighting such as roof lights and large windows will also be considered.

Any planning development being considered within the AONB should also have regard for the public rights of way network.

Wherever possible new roads and major infrastructure proposals should be kept away from the AONB and, where they would be likely to affect it, proposals should demonstrate the need for development and that the siting and design would do as little damage to the environment as practicable.


Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are areas of fine landscape quality, of such great variety in character and extent that there is a national interest in protecting them. The primary objective of designation is conservation of the natural beauty of the landscape. The National Planning Policy Framework states that 'great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and AONBs, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues' (paragraph 176).

The Mendip Hills AONB, designated in 1972, covers 206 sq km, and is divided between the administrative areas of North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. AONB designation confers few additional powers on local authorities. However, application of this policy should help to protect and where possible enhance the landscape and natural beauty of the Mendip Hills AONB.

The council has had regard to the Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan and Delivery Plan 2019-2024, in preparing the policy. That is consistent with the National Planning Practice Guidance.

Policy DP38: Built Heritage

Development proposals affecting Conservation Areas and listed buildings must demonstrate that:

  • Existing buildings, features, hard and soft landscape that contribute to their special character have been retained;
  • New development will not cause harm to the existing character and appearance of the Conservation Area and wherever possible positively enhance it;
  • New development affecting the setting of a Conservation Area or listed building preserves those elements of the setting that make a positive contribution and, where possible, better reveals the significance of the conservation area or listed building;
  • Past unsympathetic development whether previously authorised or not has been removed or the harm caused repaired;
  • Development conforms to published guidance as set out within Conservation Area Character Appraisals and Management Plans; and
  • Any changes made to listed buildings, inside and out, and to their curtilage, respect their architectural significance, historic features, and context.

Development will be expected to preserve and where appropriate enhance the character, appearance and special interest of Conservation Areas and listed buildings and their settings.

Applicants should provide the Council with sufficient information to enable an assessment to be made of the impact of the proposals on the special architectural or historic interest of the Conservation Area and/or listed building and their setting. A Heritage Statement will be required to accompany all planning applications.

Where a building is identified to be at risk the Council will seek to secure the protection of the building to prevent its continued deterioration, such as through the use of enforcement powers to protect the building.


There are 32 Conservation Areas in North Somerset, the aim of which is to protect local distinctiveness. There are also 1,077 listed buildings, designated for their architectural and historic interest.

Before considering proposals involving new buildings or redevelopment involving demolition within Conservation Areas or to listed buildings, the Council will request that detailed plans and elevations showing the effect of the proposed development on the setting of the site, for example adjacent buildings, walls, trees and other important features, are provided in support. Applicants will be expected to justify their proposals and show why works, which would affect the character of the conservation area or listed building, are desirable or necessary.

Proposals for change of use within conservation areas will be permitted where they are consistent with maintaining their viability, character or appearance.

This policy is designed to safeguard conservation areas from inappropriate development or change that may be detrimental and to encourage development that can make a positive contribution to the preservation or enhancement of these areas.

Permission for the demolition or redevelopment of a building of individual merit or group value will be exceptional. The implementation of any consent for demolition will only be granted where there is clear and convincing evidence that all reasonable efforts have been made to retain existing uses or introduce new viable uses and following the letting of a contract for approved redevelopment.

Proposals for demolition, or for significant undergrounding of services, must also comply with Policy DP39: Archaeology & Non-Designated Heritage Assets in relation to archaeological assessment and/or recording of the building or structure.

Policy DP39: Archaeology and non-designated heritage assets


Archaeological interests will be fully considered when determining planning applications, including potential impact on Scheduled Monuments and their setting.

Where an initial assessment indicates that a proposed development includes or has the potential to include archaeological interest, the Council will seek an archaeological desk-based assessment and/or field evaluation.

Development proposals that would affect archaeological remains will be expected to demonstrate, by a thorough understanding of the significance of the asset, how any change proposed would preserve and, where appropriate, enhance their significance.

The field evaluation will establish the extent and significance of the remains and the potential harm of the proposals to that significance before the planning application is determined.

Significant archaeological remains will require preservation as archaeological excavation means the total destruction of evidence, apart from removable artefacts. Applicants will be required to modify their proposal to take account of the archaeological remains, for example by using foundations which avoid disturbing the remains or by the careful siting of landscaped or open areas.

In cases where the Council decides that it is not necessary to preserve archaeological remains, developers will be required to make appropriate and satisfactory provision for the excavation and recording of the remains before development commences, which may be attached as conditions if planning permission is granted.

Where archaeological assets are considered to be at risk, the Council will seek to secure their protection to prevent continued deterioration.

Non-Designated Heritage Assets and Local Heritage List

Proposals affecting non-designated heritage assets, must consider their significance and whether they warrant protection, where possible, from removal or inappropriate change, including harm to their setting.

The Council will require a heritage impact assessment to accompany planning applications which have the potential to harm a non-designated heritage asset and/or its setting.


Scheduled Monuments are designated for their nationally important archaeology. There are 68 Scheduled Monuments in North Somerset, ranging from prehistoric burial monuments and hillforts to post-medieval collieries.

Archaeological remains can be both above and below ground and can include buildings, landscapes and sites, as well as other types of heritage assets.

Early consultation with the Council's archaeologist will aid in mitigating potential harm to archaeology and impact on delivery of development proposals.

The National Planning Policy Framework planning practice guidance describes non-designated heritage assets as 'buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified by plan-making bodies as having a degree of heritage significance meriting consideration in planning decisions but which do not meet the criteria for designated heritage assets'.

Heritage assets, whether designated or not, are an irreplaceable resource. Of all the heritage assets in North Somerset, the majority are not protected by statutory legislation, and are therefore known as 'non-designated heritage assets'. There are many non-designated heritage assets recorded within the North Somerset Historic Environment Record, comprising archaeological sites, findspots and buildings of local and regional significance.

North Somerset Council also has a Local Heritage List which enables local communities to celebrate the unique history that can makes an area special. All assets on this list are material considerations in the planning process. Assets are added to the list when they meet the following criteria:

- Aesthetic (designed and casual - the visual elements of an asset).

- Communal (commemorative or social - the meaning of a place, and people relate to it through experience or memory).

- Historical (associative or illustrative - how a place in the present can connect us to past people, events).

- Evidential (the potential of a place to provide evidence about past human activity)

Not all sites of national importance have been designated and the Council will seek to protect both designated and non-designated sites of national importance and their settings.

Policy DP40: Historic Parks and Gardens

Development will be expected to preserve the design, character, appearance and setting of North Somerset's historic parks and gardens (both registered and unregistered) to safeguard their significance including those features which form an integral part of their special character or appearance.

Applicants should provide the Council with sufficient information to enable an assessment to be made of the impact of the proposals on the historic park and garden, and their setting. A Heritage Statement will be required to accompany all planning applications.


The main purpose of designation of historic parks and gardens is to celebrate designed landscapes of note and encourage appropriate protection. There are 8 Registered Historic Parks & Gardens in North Somerset, and 58 unregistered Parks and Gardens.

Historic Parks and Gardens are an important part of North Somerset's heritage. They may illustrate some aspect of the park or garden's history or of the history of gardening or horticulture, have an association with a particular person or event or form the setting for a building of historic interest. They are important in historical and landscape terms.

Historic England has compiled a Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England with the intention that public knowledge of their existence will help protect them from development pressures. No additional planning controls apply to parks and gardens in the register nor are existing planning or listed building controls affected.

Historic Parks and Gardens are often under threat of unsympathetic development or other activities and the Council will resist proposals that would destroy or harm the character or appearance of these sites, including their setting.


Policy DP41: Coastal erosion and marine management

DP41: Coastal erosion and marine management

Proposals should avoid areas at risk from coastal erosion with reference to national mapping, and ensure they are compatible with the appropriate Shoreline Management Plan. Proposals close to cliff edges or existing coastal defences will be required to undertake a risk assessment.

Applications for new car parking provision (public or privately owned which are available for wider public use) located within 1km boundary of a designated coastal or marine site or new access points direct into the estuary such as slipways or jetties will need to demonstrate that they will not result in an increase in activity likely to have a significant effect upon a European site whether on their own, or in combination with other uses. Such proposals need to be subject to a project level Habitats Regulation Assessment.


The North Somerset Coast is part of the Severn Estuary, it is a designated Special Area of Conservation, a Ramsar Site, a Special Protection Area, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Over wintering birds use the estuary extensively and are sensitive to disturbance by recreational activities on the coast. As a relevant authority, North Somerset Council must ensure that development proposals do not have an adverse impact on designated sites.

England's coast is managed by Coastal Groups with members mainly from local councils and the Environment Agency and develop Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs). They identify the most sustainable approach to managing the flood and coastal erosion risks to the coastline in the:

  • Short-term (0 to 20 years).
  • Medium term (20 to 50 years).
  • Long term (50 to 100 years).

North Somerset's coast is covered by two SMPs, The Severn Estuary SMP and the North Devon and Somerset SMP. These identify areas of potential coastal erosion and change and have policies for how that change will be managed over 100 years. North Somerset has two areas of anticipated coastal change that will result in the managed realignment of sea defences. These are Weston Beach to Uphill and Clevedon to Woodspring Bay.