We are excited to announce that biodiversity net gain (BNG) will officially commence on February 12, 2024. Starting from this date, major developments, unless exempted, must incorporate net gains for biodiversity, fostering positive outcomes for nature, enhancing local communities, and establishing more consistent and transparent requirements for developers.
Which types of development does BNG cover?
As of February 12, 2024, BNG is mandatory for new planning applications related to major development under the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990, with confirmed exemptions. Major development includes residential projects featuring 10 or more dwellings or sites exceeding 0.5 hectares.
BNG for small sites will have an extended transition period and will be applicable from April 2, 2024. Small site development encompasses:
- Residential development with 1 to 9 dwellings or, if unknown, a site area less than 0.5 hectares.
- Commercial development where floor space created is under 1,000 square meters or the total site area is less than 1 hectare.
Which planning permissions does BNG apply to?
The introduction of BNG primarily focuses on planning applications, the primary route to securing planning permission. Starting February 12, BNG will apply to new planning permission applications, except for retrospective permission applications, as well as the exemptions and transitional arrangements outlined below.
Applications made through other routes, such as deemed permissions under section 90 TCPA 1990 or permissions granted by a Local Development Order, will not be subject to mandatory BNG yet. Further regulations will be needed to adjust the procedure for these alternative routes, and additional information will be provided in due course.
Developers can still voluntarily implement BNG on these developments based on existing planning policies.
BNG applies only to planning applications made on or after February 12. Transitional arrangements have been instituted in the main BNG commencement regulations to ensure that if a planning application was made before this date, BNG will not apply to the subsequent planning permission.
Updates to Legislation:
In November 2023, the Government released a draft package of secondary legislation to assist stakeholders in preparing for mandatory BNG. Minor changes have been made to the legislation, particularly in response to discussions with stakeholders, addressing concerns related to the de-minimis exemption and the biodiversity gain hierarchy.
This marks a significant milestone in the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan, ensuring that new development actively contributes to nature’s recovery. It plays a vital role in helping the country achieve its target of halting the decline in species abundance by 2030, while also fostering the creation of more aesthetically pleasing communities and delivering new homes.