How we engage in planning: our role as a developer

Damp footprints on the rocks at Poldhu Cove on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

We are an independent conservation charity looking after a quarter of a million hectares of land, 775 miles of coastline, hundreds of houses and thousands of archaeological monuments and historic buildings, large and small.

Our planning procedure

In the course of our work, we’re also responsible for some new development. Whether it’s for a new visitors’ centre or a new green energy project, this means we’re a participant in the planning system.
Sometimes we apply for a change of use of a building to give it a productive future use or to aid farm or estate diversification.
 
Very occasionally we seek to develop ‘investment’ land to meet an identified housing need. Sometimes donors specifically offer land with development potential to help pay for conservation work in the future.
 
Our conservation purpose is paramount so in all cases where we apply for planning permission we look to include sustainable development principles, seeking to minimise resource use, waste and pollution; safeguard landscape, wildlife and historic interests; respect local distinctiveness; and provide better access, and a safe and healthy environment.
 
We’ve developed the following criteria to ensure only suitable projects proceed:
 
  •     Adhere to the policies in the relevant local plan.
  •     Deliver energy efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
  •     Build in harmony with the local environment, built and natural.
  •     Involve the local community throughout the process.
 
The vast majority of our land is held forever, for everyone. Less than 0.01% is currently allocated for housing in local plans and proposed for development by the Trust.
 
When we do release land for development we aim to use it to show what good housing can look like.
 
We only sell land for development when we are completely satisfied that any proposed scheme is the best possible solution for the area and passes a rigorous set of design and environmental standards we apply as part of our decision-making process.
 
Some recent case studies include:
 

Pyrland, Taunton, Somerset

 
We have agreed to release 15 hectares of land to the north of the town. This is entirely consistent with our planning approach and the wishes of the donor who left us this land.
 
Under the proposals up to 300 homes could be built on the site, which was identified as one of the best places to build new housing by Taunton Deane Borough Council as part of the local plan. We are satisfied that there are no suitable brownfield options available locally.
 
The development is part of Taunton Deane Borough Council’s allocation at Staplegrove, a new community of up to 1,600 dwellings and associated infrastructure.
 
Being actively involved in the process means we can help ensure that the development meets our planning principles in terms of sustainability, design, layout and open space.
 
We propose to set aside a large proportion of green space for the residents of the new homes and those already living nearby. Proposals include footpaths, cycleways, community allotments, orchards and conservation areas.
 
We are also proposing that the historic parkland landscape at Pyrland is restored and made accessible to the public for the first time.
 
The two Trust sites at Corkscrew Lane and Kingston Road were left to the Trust by John Adams who gave the land at the same time he gave Fyne Court, an estate and wild garden, to the north of Taunton.
 

Dean Park, Bovey Tracey, Devon

 
Around 1.25 hectares of our land at Bovey Tracey is being made available for housing.
 
The proposed development at Dean Park was identified through the local authority’s planning process and meets a genuine local housing need. The plan was subject to local consultation.
 
We will ensure that any development that takes place on this land meets our planning principles and deliver high quality homes in terms of sustainability, design, layout and open space.
 
Our land at Dean Park consists of un-grazed pasture and lies on the north-west edge of Bovey Tracey, adjacent to other housing developments.
 
It was the donor’s intention that the land could be sold if necessary to improve the Parke Estate, a much-loved historic estate on the outskirts of Bovey Tracey.
 
Our small parcel of land forms part of a bigger 5 hectare site allocated for delivery of at least 120 homes, with at least 30% affordable housing, in the draft Teignbridge Local Plan (2013-2033).
 
 

Erddig, near Wrexham, North Wales

 
In order to ensure the Trust could continue to rescue, restore and maintain Erddig, Squire Yorke, the donor, decreed on donating it to us that a portion of land must be available to support its continued conservation.
 
The local need for this scheme was identified by the local authority as far back as 1996, reinforced after a public inquiry in 2002, and again by the Wrexham Unitary Development Plan in 2005 and finally via the granting of planning permission in 2008 by Wrexham Borough Council.
 
Throughout the development of the proposal the details and objectives of the plan were shaped and defined through community consultation and by working with the council.
 
The carefully planned scheme includes 55 affordable homes and will include a host of new facilities for the community including a community hall, shop, and contribution to a new classroom at Rhostyllen County Primary School, tearoom, children’s play area, footpaths, open public spaces and cycle tracks.
 
The aim of the scheme is to not only help satisfy the local need for housing but also to provide the means to continue to protect one of Wales’s most iconic properties forever, for everyone.
 
We are currently working with our agents on options for taking the scheme forward when a suitable opportunity arises that allows for appropriate development in keeping with Erddig’s environment and Squire Yorke’s wishes.
 

Stamford Brook, Cheshire

 
The Stamford Brook development is a sustainable housing project that we delivered in conjunction with Redrow Homes and Bryant Homes. It is built on 3,000 acres of land that once formed part of the Dunham Massey Estate in Cheshire. Stamford Brook was designed with a ‘triple-bottom-line' approach, balancing environmental, community and economic needs.
 
The project included creation of new public open space, landscape and ecological improvements and the naturalisation of a 1.8km stretch of the Sinderland Brook. This benefits wildlife and provides a semi-natural urban drainage system, as well as giving the Stamford Brook housing development a special character and its residents access to a beautiful natural environment.
 
We set out to build all 750 homes to a higher standard of building regulations than in force at the time. A crucial purpose of the development was to trial and implement, with volume housebuilders, the building regulations that Government would require to meet energy performance standards in the future.
 
It was really important to everyone involved that the development was financially viable – while the developers inevitably spent more time and money on the project than they would normally, they benefited hugely in terms of the outcomes and lessons derived from the development. It gave us an understanding of the commercial realities of development too.