Protecting the Natural Environment
A high quality built and natural environment, accessible countryside, water areas, green space and good leisure and cultural facilities enhance the quality of life for existing and future communities, support wildlife and provide natural adaptation and mitigation mechanisms against the effects of climate change.
These features are also important factors in attracting new investment to Preston.
Green Belts are areas of countryside and open land defined by local planning authorities to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. Green Belt serves five purposes:
- To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
- To prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
- To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
- To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
- To assist in urban regenerations, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other land
The Green Belt in Preston is mainly confined to the Ribble escarpment and flood plain to the east of the City Centre.
It forms part of a larger area of Green Belt south of the River Ribble, extending to Walton-le-Dale and on to Chorley and Blackburn.
It was defined in the previous 2004 Preston Local Plan and the boundary has been carried forward unchanged into this plan's Policies Map.
Development in the Open Countryside
Most of the countryside within Preston is designated as Open Countryside, with only a small area of Green Belt confined to the escarpment and flood plain to the east of the City. Green Belt will be preserved and protected in accordance with the Framework.
It is important that the Areas of Open Countryside are protected from unacceptable development which would harm its open and rural character.
Policy AD1(b) is concerned with proposed developments within the larger villages defined on the Policies Map.
Smaller settlements and clusters of buildings are not defined on the map, but are included within the open countryside designation. Proposals within these settlements will be considered against Policy EN1 and Core Strategy Policy 1(f).
Protection of Existing Green Infrastructure
Green infrastructure is the network of natural environmental components used for sport, leisure and recreational purposes. Green infrastructure includes:
- Parks and Gardens
- Nature Reserves
- Recreational Grounds
- Playing Fields/Sports Pitches/ Educational Playing Fields
- Private and Institutional Open Space
- Amenity Open Space
- Green Corridors
- Watercourses and river corridors
- Public Rights of Way
Green infrastructure is a valuable resource and is to be protected from development except where it can be demonstrated that it has become surplus to requirements, or where proposals include replacement provision which is equivalent or better than that lost, or where the development itself adds value by way of a change to another category of green infrastructure.
The position and design of any development will need to be sensitive to the area and have no adverse effects on features within the site.
Development proposals must demonstrate that the benefits of the development would outweigh any nature conservation value in an environmental statement submitted as part of their application.
Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are a category of protected landscape, and were originally designated under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.
The Forest of Bowland was designated in 1967. Part of the Forest of Bowland AONB - the area around the Beacon Fell Country Park - lies within Preston.
The Joint Advisory Committee
The City Council belongs to a partnership of local authorities and other stakeholders - the Joint Advisory Committee - which manages the AONB, and is led by Lancashire County Council.
The partnership is responsible for preparing a statutory management plan. Development management decisions in the AONB remain the responsibility of the individual local authorities.
Special considerations apply to AONBs. The fundamental principle underlying planning and control of development in AONBs is that new development within the AONB that has a materially adverse impact can only proceed where it is demonstrated that it satisfies an overriding national need.
There is an expectation of restoration and aftercare should such uses cease. All development is expected to conform to a very high standard of design, to be in keeping with local distinctiveness and to seek to conserve and enhance the AONB's natural beauty.
The partnership does advise on planning matters and to this end it has produced a Renewable Energy Position Statement which sets out the Joint Advisory Committee's position with regard to the siting of renewable energy developments, both within and adjacent to the boundaries of the Forest of Bowland AONB.
Ribble Coast and Wetlands
Core Strategy Policy 20 supports the continued development of plans and proposals for the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park.
The concept for the Park was included in the North West Regional Economic Strategy and the Regional Spatial Strategy (Policy EM4 and Policy CLCR3), and the City Council has been involved in efforts to establish the Park along with other local authorities in the area.
The area includes the Ribble Estuary which is an internationally important habitat for birds. The idea of the park is essentially to promote the area as a visitor attraction in a sustainable way, by providing greater access and improving green infrastructure.
The precise boundary of the park has yet to be defined but the area of search extends into Preston. While recognising the importance of the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park, this area within Preston is a significant location for the provision of green infrastructure to support wider needs including the security of energy supplies.
In line with the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the Framework there is, therefore, a presumption in favour of using this area in Preston for the delivery of green infrastructure.