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The city council is part of the Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership set up to coordinate efforts from local authorities to ensure that the Special Protection Areas (SPAs) continue to be protected. SPAs are internationally recognised for their habitat value, particularly for overwintering coastal birds, which need to be able to feed and rest undisturbed. Research has shown that new homes in proximity to these areas lead to more people visiting the coastline for recreation, potentially causing additional disturbance to the birds.
Within the Portsmouth area there are the Portsmouth Harbour SPA, Chichester and Langstone Harbours SPA and the Solent and Southampton Water SPA.
The Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy (December 2017) and its charging schedule is effective in the Portsmouth City Council area from 1st April 2018.
The Partnership’s final Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy contains measures to protect the SPAs from recreation disturbance from proposed new housing up to 2034. The mitigation measures are to be funded by developer contributions for each net additional dwelling within a 5.6km radius of the SPAs. There will remain an option for developers to put forward alternative mitigation packages, which would need to be agreed with Natural England.
The Strategy details what constitutes a ‘new dwelling’ and the approach to student accommodation units. Contributions are on a sliding scale according to the number of bedrooms in a dwelling.
Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy charges effective from 1 April 2020:
Rates will increase annually on 1 April to take into account of inflation.
This final Strategy replaces the Interim Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy (December 2014) and the associated Solent Special Protection Areas Supplementary Planning Document (April 2014) which has been revoked by the City Council from 1 April 2018.
If the housing scheme would have required a legal agreement anyway (such as for affordable housing) then the provision of mitigation will be included in that. For all other schemes, applicants have the option of securing the mitigation package which will be needed through either a direct payment secured through a Section 111 Agreement or a Unilateral Undertaking.
If you would like to use a Section 111 Agreement, you can find the form below along with a guidance note on how to complete it and pay for the mitigation package together with an example of a filled in Section 111 agreement. Two original, completed and signed copies of the agreement should be submitted with your planning application or as soon as possible afterwards. The easiest way to pay for the mitigation package is online with a debit card. Follow the link to our payments page, choose ‘planning’ and then ‘Habitats Regulations Mitigation Package’ from the drop-down list.
Alternatively, the template Unilateral Undertaking can be completed and submitted. Applicants should download the relevant template from the two available below, complete it and submit it with the planning application. There is also a guidance note on the checking service which we offer for the Unilateral Undertakings. Please note that there is an administrative charge for the checking service.
The General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) allows for the change of use of some buildings and land to Class C3 (dwellinghouses) with this development subject to a prior approval process. However the Habitats Regulations also apply to such developments. The council is obliged by the regulations to assume that there will be a significant effect on the Solent SPAs.
Any development for prior approval should also be accompanied by an application for the city council to do a Habitats Regulations Assessment on the proposed development (please note there is a £30 fee for this). The development will need to include a mitigation package to mitigate the significant effect on the Solent SPAs which new residential development would otherwise result in.
The mitigation package can be secured using the template ‘unilateral undertaking for GPDO developments’ or a direct payment through a Section 111 Agreement.
If you have any general queries about the Strategy see the Bird Aware Solent website for further information. If you have queries in relation to a specific development, please contact the relevant case officer.