Natural and Cultural Places in Conwy
The section covers the Natural and Cultural aspects of placemaking in Conwy. These are which value the quality of Conwy's landscapes and historic environment, future proof economic assets both in response to the challenges presented by climate change and in promoting low carbon solutions, protecting landscapes and habitats, enabling opportunities for connecting with the natural environment and encouraging healthier lifestyles with the benefit of improving physical and mental well-being, elements of which are encouraged in the Conwy & Denbighshire Well-being Plan. This section sets the strategic direction for Landscape, Coastal Areas, Historic Environment, Culturally Led Regeneration, Green Infrastructure, Biodiversity, Water, Air, Soundscape & Light and Flooding. 5.1.1
Strategic Objective 12 (SO12): Conserve and enhance Conwy's high quality natural and cultural heritage assets. 5.2.1
Landscape Strategic Policy SP/19
To meet international responsibilities and obligations for landscapes the RLDP will protect statutorily designated sites and landscapes of value ensuring that special qualities are protected, managed and enhanced. This will include bringing forward opportunities that landscapes provide for tourism, outdoor recreation, local employment, renewable energy and physical and mental health and well-being delivering multiple well-being benefits for people and communities.
All the landscapes of Conwy are valued for their intrinsic contribution to a sense of place, and the Council will protect and enhance their special characteristics, whilst paying due regard to the social, economic, environmental and cultural benefits they provide, and to their role in creating valued places. Landscape has been considered from the outset of formulating the RLDP and its polices which will be used to assess future development. This is key to sustaining and enhancing their special qualities, and delivering the maximum well-being benefits for present and future generations as well as helping to deliver an effective and integrated approach to natural resource management over the plan period and beyond. 5.2.2
There is much pressure on the environment in Conwy and not all as a result, or in the control, of the planning system. However, the key contributors to landscape change which can be influenced by the planning system include the expansion of settlements, commercial, industrial, energy and quarrying developments, caravan and lodge development, road improvements and large recreational related developments, including any associated mitigation measures resulting from renewable energy generation, water resource management and through the planned expansion of woodland. Key professional landscape assessment will be necessary in ensuring the statutorily designated sites and Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) and other important landscape features are protected. 5.2.3
Collaboration and engagement will continue to take place with adjacent planning authorities, Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Cadw and the third sector to draw on a wide range of expertise and evidence. This will help ensure: 5.2.4
- Conwy contributes to meeting international responsibilities and obligations for landscapes;
- Statutorily designated sites are properly protected and managed;
- The value of all landscapes for their distinctive character and special qualities is protected; and
- Opportunities that landscapes provide for tourism, outdoor recreation, local employment, renewable energy and physical and mental health and well-being are taken into account and multiple well-being benefits for people and communities secured.
Where adverse effects on landscape character cannot be avoided, it will be necessary to refuse planning permission. 5.2.5
LANDMAP is an important information resource, methodology, and monitoring baseline for the landscapes of Wales, which can help inform planning for the sustainable management of natural resources in an area. LANDMAP describes and evaluates the physical, ecological, visual, cultural and historic aspects of the landscapes of Wales, and provides the basis of a consistent, quality assured national approach to Landscape assessment. LANDMAP assessments can help to inform green infrastructure assessments, SPG on landscape, development management decisions, landscape character assessment, local distinctiveness, design, and landscape sensitivity studies. It has been used to inform and designate current Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) which will also be revised and include in RLDP.
Conwy will continue to draw upon LANDMAP in the preparation of Landscape plans and assessments needed to inform the RLDP, further SPGs and the development management process. 5.2.7
Strategic Objective 13 (SO13): Support growth, regeneration and development opportunities in Coastal Areas, whilst at the same time being aware and responsive to the challenges resulting from natural pressures. 5.3.1
Coastal Areas and Marine Plans Strategic Policy SP/20
The RLDP and the Marine Plan will work together and support integrated decision making and collaboration across marine and terrestrial interfaces and boundaries.
The Marine Plan identifies opportunities for the sustainable development of Wales's seas by guiding new development and related decisions both inshore and offshore. 5.3.2
The main planning principles for coastal places, which reflect the principles of Integrated Coastal Zone Management, are to support urban and rural development whilst at the same time being aware of, and appropriately responsive to, the challenges resulting from the dynamic interaction of natural and development pressures in coastal areas. This requires the RLDP to be ecologically and physically resilient and socially and economically adaptable to change. Taking on board these considerations will ensure the RLDP and the Marine Plan are complementary. 5.3.3
The RLDP will clearly establish what the coast means to the area and will apply specific policies which reflect the characteristics of their coastlines including the interrelationships between the physical, biological and land use characteristics of the coastal areas and the impacts of climate change. This involves considering the potential impacts associated with incremental increases in coastal risks over time as well as any beneficial incremental changes in land use. This will mean identifying areas likely to be suitable for development as well as those subject to significant constraints and considered to be unsuitable for development. Areas subject to constraints or considered unsuitable for development may include those where: 5.3.4
- conservation or enhancement of the natural and historic environment requires development to be limited;
- visual intrusion and inter-visibility between land and sea will need to be carefully considered;
- there are specific policies to be pursued in Heritage Coast areas;
- access to coastal paths should be protected; and
- there may be risks of erosion, flooding or land instability.
In other areas the economic potential of the coast may be unlocked in a sustainable manner. Area Statements and other locally based plans for coastal areas will provide relevant information to inform the RLDP. 5.3.5
Marine Character Area 02. Colwyn Bay and Rhyl Flats and MCA 03. Red Wharf and Conwy Bays are relevant to the Plan Area and will be recognized in the Green Infrastructure Assessment. 5.3.6
The MCAs are available on Natural Resources Wales website
Development on the Coast 5.3.7
Conwy has a high level of existing development, infrastructure and population in areas that are at risk of flooding. New development should not normally be proposed in coastal locations unless it needs to be on the coast. In particular, undeveloped coastal areas, especially those at risk of flooding, will rarely be the most appropriate location for development. Where new development requires a coastal location, developed coastal areas will normally provide the best option, provided that issues associated with coastal change have been taken into account. Such issues include the risks of erosion, flooding, land instability, and the preferred approaches to address such risks, and impacts on biodiversity and ecological resilience.
Before permanent and long term developments, including those of regional or national importance, can be granted permission it will be essential to demonstrate that a coastal location is required based on the characteristics of the coastline in question. Where development is considered to be justified it should be designed so as to be resilient to the effects of climate change over its lifetime and not result in unacceptable incremental increases in risk. 5.3.8
Coastal Change 5.3.9
As part of understanding the characteristics of coastlines it is recognised that sea level rise, storm surge, wave action and changes in coastal morphology and sediment supply can lead to both direct and indirect effects at the coast and on tidal rivers. Uncertainty is further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Whilst coastal morphology can be a protective feature against sea level rise, storm surge and wave action, the construction of coastal defences can potentially influence sediment supply by transferring the risks of erosion elsewhere. This possibility, given that erosion and the risk of inundation are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, should be avoided. It is not appropriate for development in one location to unacceptably add to the impacts of physical change to the coast in another location.
Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) are developed by local authorities in partnership with a range of stakeholders and establish long-term local policy frameworks for the management of coastal risk. The priorities contained within them will influence and inform the RLDP. Where it is established that coastal defences will no longer be maintained, the RLDP will include clear and specific policies to manage development in such areas, including where development would be unsuitable or where specific characteristics should be considered. 5.3.10
SMPs will influence whether development itself can be justified or how it should be designed. Some areas of coastline are covered by active policies of intervention in SMPs to defend the line and clear timescales are in place governing these policies. Other areas, which may already be developed, will not have active interventions associated with defence or may have managed setback, or realignment, identified as the appropriate response to inundation. 5.3.11
Enabling adaptation to change, including climate change, will be a key consideration and measures to both reduce vulnerabilities and seek opportunities to build resilience in communities should be identified, particularly as part of preparing development plans. The nature of new uses which may be suitable in areas subject to change should be carefully considered, including the impacts of, or opportunities afforded, by making incremental changes in an area. Connections should also be made to strategies for the provision of green infrastructure and sustainable drainage schemes and to wider wellbeing plans to ensure social and economic resilience of settlements and their ability to adapt to change over the long term. 5.3.12
The Shoreline Management Plans (SMPs) framework for the management of coastal risk and its priorities will influence and inform the RLDP. Where it is established that coastal defences will no longer be maintained, the RLDP will include clear and specific policies to manage development in such areas, including where development would be unsuitable or where specific characteristics should be considered.
Strategic Objective 12 (SO12): Conserve and enhance Conwy's high quality natural and cultural heritage assets. 5.4.1
Historic Environment Strategic Policy SP/21
Conwy's distinctive heritage assets listed below (a - g) will be protected and where appropriate, managed and enhanced.
- Conservation Areas
- World Heritage Site at Conwy Town
- Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes
- Listed Buildings
- Scheduled Ancient Monuments
- Sites of Archaeological Importance
- Historic Assets of Local Importance
When considering development for enabling schemes and development affecting the setting of a heritage asset, decisions will be steered by national guidance.
Historic assets play an important role for tourism, investment and communities and need protecting and where appropriate, enhancing through the RLDP. The historic environment is central to Conwy's culture and its character, telling the story of our history through buildings, structures, parks, gardens and landscapes and contributing to our sense of place and identity. It enhances our quality of life, general well-being and adds to regional and local distinctiveness while being an important economic and social asset that should be preserved for future generations to experience and enjoy. 5.4.2
A paper titled 'Heritage Counts' published by the Historic Environment Group quantifies the impact and influence of the heritage sector in Wales. In total it is estimated that the heritage sector generates £963m into the Welsh economy each year and supports over 40,500 jobs. 5.4.3
In addition, many people in Wales are employed in jobs that exist indirectly to the heritage sector - for example, the many people who work in hotels and restaurants catering for visitors to Wales who visit mainly for a heritage experience. The paper also points out that 43% of the construction industry jobs in Wales (26,340 people) work in conservation repair and the maintenance of traditional buildings built before 1919. Heritage Counts puts the value of heritage in quantifiable terms and demonstrates how valuable the historic environment is to the economy, tourism and education sectors. 5.4.4
The Conwy local planning authority area hosts 162 Scheduled Monuments, 1735 Listed Buildings of which 29 are listed at Grade I, 1610 at Grade 2 and 96 at Grade 2*, and 24 Conservation Areas. The RLDP will support the protection and enhancement of all nationally designated heritage assets, and consider the impact of development within their settings. The identified heritage assets benefit from statutory protection which must be taken account of within policies, proposals and guidance within the RLDP. 5.4.5
Conwy Castle is designated as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO considers Conwy Castle to be "one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe." A World Heritage Site Management Plan has been produced by Cadw which has been endorsed as SPG by Conwy Council and will be carried forward as part of this LDP Review. 5.4.6
The CCBC area hosts a range of designated heritage assets, each of which need to be appropriately protected from effects on their integrity and setting. Their contribution to the CCBC area and especially Conwy Town (a town situated within the world heritage site) should be preserved, protected and where appropriate, enhanced to encourage tourism within the area. 5.4.7
National planning statute and guidance has changed significantly since adoption of the previous LDP with the introduction of the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016. For example, there is a requirement to make use of Historic Environment Records, undertake Heritage Impact Assessments for developments which require Conservation Area or Listed Building Consent and produce statements to accompany such applications. This may also apply when development proposals have an impact on the setting of a heritage asset. Historic Assets of Local Importance or Buildings and Structures of Local Importance (BSLIs) as they are referred to in the Conwy LDP (2007-2022) is another area that is new to the national guidance, as is a criteria based policy on Enabling Development. These latest additions to national policy will have an impact on previous LDP policies CTH/3 and CTH/4 which will be addressed within the strategic policy and the Deposit RLDP. 5.4.8
Delivering the Objective and Strategic Policy 5.4.9
SPG was produced under the previous Conwy LDP (2007-2022) to guide decision makers and other interested parties on the subject of development in Conservation Areas generally and Conservation Area Management Plans relating to specific locations, for example Llandudno, Conwy Town, Colwyn Bay Town Centre and Llanelian. This approach will continue post adoption of the RLDP with existing management plans being updated and new management plans being produced for the remaining conservation areas.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) requires the preparation of the Management Plan to guide development of the World Heritage Sites that comprise the Edward I castles and walls of Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris. A Management Plan has been prepared which includes a defined buffer zone intended to protect the setting of Conwy World Heritage Site. This was adopted by CCBC as SPG in April 2018. It is the intention that the RLDP proposals map will include the revised boundaries for the buffer zone as shown in the SPG as adopted in April 2018 (LDP 2007-2022). 5.4.10
In terms of enabling schemes, the LDP (2007-2022) refers only to buildings where, in line with national planning policy guidance, it should apply to heritage assets generally. The Deposit RLDP will not seek to repeat the criteria set out within PPW on Enabling Development, but due to the complex nature of enabling schemes, the SPG will be updated in line with the Strategic Policy to assist applicants with the interpretation of policy at a local level. 5.4.11
A survey of listed buildings was carried out in 2016 which identified listed buildings at risk. The "At Risk" list will provide the basis from which an action plan will be formulated. Priority will be given to buildings based upon the order in which effective action can be taken and the extent of the action required. Consideration will be given to risk scores, building grade, rates of deterioration, schemes that will bring community benefit, location, unoccupied dwellings in areas targeted for renewal, significance of the property and its contribution to townscape and ease of achieving a positive result. Cadw has produced a series of guidance notes which provide owners and decision makers with useful advice, for example, 'Managing Change to Listed Buildings' and 'Managing Listed Buildings at Risk in Wales.' 5.4.12
Scheduled ancient monuments (SAMs) are nationally important archaeological sites that are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. There are 155 SAMs in the Conwy planning area and a list of these can be found on Archwilio. The effect of scheduling is that proposals to damage, demolish, remove, repair, alter, add to, flood or cover up a SAM require scheduled monument consent, on top of the requirement for planning permission. 5.4.13
A register of Historic Assets of Local Importance will be compiled and maintained. SPG will be produced which will include detailed criteria for assessment and inclusion of such assets on the register. 5.4.14
Regarding development that has a bearing on the setting of heritage assets, guidance produced by Cadw titled 'Setting of Historic Assets in Wales' should be followed in line with the Strategic Policy. 5.4.15
Strategic Objective 1 (SO1): Contribute to the creation of sustainable places, social inclusion and improved wellbeing overall in Conwy through the delivery of inclusive placemaking and regeneration that ensures future growth levels and development takes place in sustainable and accessible locations, seeks to promote good design and healthier places, protects Welsh language and is supported by the necessary social, environmental, cultural and economic infrastructure to create great places. 5.5.1
Culturally-led Regeneration Strategic Policy SP/22
Proposals arising from or complementary to regeneration initiatives that seek to retain, enhance and support cultural assets and identity of place will be supported in principle.
National Planning Policy recognises the importance of retaining the unique and special characteristics that give a place a sense of identity and distinct feel. Such cultural assets and a sense of place should be recognised and appreciated when it comes to land-use planning. Indeed, it is often the existence of these characteristics which 'add value' to an area and make it an attractive and interesting place to live, work and visit. With this in mind, regeneration proposals which specifically seek to support and enhance cultural assets and foster a sense of place should be supported in principle. 5.5.2
Delivering the Objective and Strategic
There are a number of culturally-based strategic initiatives taking place throughout the county of Conwy some of which will have an impact upon issues relating to land use planning. An example of a recently completed project is the Colwyn Bay THI (Townscape Heritage Initiative) which has played a significant part in enhancing the built environment of Colwyn Bay town centre. Some other schemes include the Imagine Colwyn Bay Great Places project which will work to secure Colwyn Bay's position as a Cultural Hub for the county, the Colwyn Bay Town Centre Investment Plan which focuses on measures that will aid the regeneration of Colwyn Bay town centre, the 'Lost Spaces' project delivered by Culture Action Llandudno (CALL) CIC which seeks to regenerate and develop derelict spaces and buildings to facilitate cultural agendas, ongoing projects associated with Venue Cymru, the establishment of a new Culture Centre in Conwy Town and the creation of a rural Heritage Forum.
The Council is in the process of compiling a brief for a county-wide Cultural Strategy which will broaden access to culture and its known benefits across the whole county. The brief will be focused to specific areas to strengthen their identity, including Conwy Town - Unesco World Heritage Site and location of newly developed Culture Centre, Colwyn Bay - a location for the emerging hub for creative industry and a current National Lottery Heritage Fund Great Place scheme, Llanrwst - Rural centre for the county and gateway to Snowdonia National Park and Llandudno - Coastal tourism and retail hub. 5.5.4
The Council will seek to support developments that form part of these initiatives and other regeneration initiatives where they are related to use of land and comply with other policies in the RLDP. 5.5.5
Strategic Objective 6 (SO6): Deliver sustainable development and seek to tackle the causes of climate change by extending the choice of sustainable transport to enable Conwy's communities to access jobs and key services through the promotion of shorter and more active and efficient walking, cycling and public transport use and by influencing the location, scale, density, mix of uses and design of new development. 5.6.1
Green Infrastructure Strategic Policy SP/23
Conwy will provide a strategic and proactive approach to green infrastructure and biodiversity by producing a Green Infrastructure Assessment and Well-being Assessments using existing datasets, and the best available information, to develop an integrated map-based evidence resource. Doing so will facilitate a proactive approach and enable contributions towards the well-being, active travel and biodiversity enhancement goals to be maximised.
Green infrastructure is the network of natural and semi-natural features, green spaces, rivers and lakes that intersperse and connect places. Component elements of green infrastructure can function at different scales. At the landscape scale green infrastructure can comprise entire ecosystems such as wetlands, waterways and mountain ranges. At a local scale, it might comprise parks, fields, public rights of way, allotments, cemeteries and gardens. At smaller scales, individual urban interventions such as street trees, hedgerows, roadside verges, and green roofs/walls can all contribute to green infrastructure networks. 5.6.2
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016, provides a context for the delivery of multi-functional green infrastructure. Its provision can make a significant contribution to the sustainable management of natural resources, and in particular to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity and the resilience of ecosystems in terms of the diversity between and within ecosystems and the extent, condition and connectivity of ecosystems and their ability to adapt. This means that the development of green infrastructure is an important way for local authorities to deliver their Section 6 duty. 5.6.3
Conwy will provide a strategic and proactive approach to green infrastructure and biodiversity by producing a Green Infrastructure Assessment which will draw from the evidence base provided by Area Statements and Well-being Assessments and be integrated into development plans to ensure the early and co-ordinated consideration of opportunities to inform new development, design and related strategies of the plan. 5.6.4
The Green Infrastructure Assessment will be used to develop a robust approach to enhancing biodiversity, increasing ecological resilience and connectivity, improving well-being outcomes and should identify key strategic opportunities where the restoration, maintenance, creation or connection of green features and functions would deliver the most significant benefits. 5.6.5
The Green Infrastructure Assessment will also be given early consideration in development proposals, and inform the implementation of projects. The RLDP will encourage the appropriate management of features of the landscape which are of major importance for biodiversity in order to complement and improve the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network. 5.6.6
Strategic Objectives 14 (SO14): Protect and enhance biodiversity and build resilient ecological networks. 5.7.1
Biodiversity Strategic Policy SP/24
Biodiversity loss should be reversed, pollution reduced, environmental risks addressed and overall resilience of ecosystems improved. When appropriate development is proposed, it must be taken forward in an integrated way to ensure common issues are considered and accommodated in the early stages of plan-making or individual proposal and multiple benefits, such as green infrastructure are secured.
The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 introduced an enhanced biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems duty (Section 6 Duty). This duty applies to public authorities in the exercise of their functions in relation to Wales and will help maximise contributions to achieving the well-being goals. 5.7.2
The Nature Recovery Action Plan supports this legislative requirement to reverse the decline in biodiversity, address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by putting nature at the heart of decision-making and increasing the resilience of ecosystems by taking specific action focused around the objectives for habitats and species. The planning system has a key role to play in helping to reverse the decline in biodiversity and increasing the resilience of ecosystems, at various scales, by ensuring appropriate mechanisms are in place to both protect against loss and to secure enhancement. 5.7.3
The strategies, RLDP policies and development proposals will consider the need to: 5.7.4
- support the conservation of biodiversity, in particular the conservation of wildlife and habitats;
- ensure action in Wales contributes to meeting international responsibilities and obligations for biodiversity and habitats;
- ensure statutorily and non-statutorily designated sites are properly protected and managed;
- safeguard protected and priority species and existing biodiversity assets from impacts which directly affect their nature conservation interests and compromise the resilience of ecological networks and the components which underpin them, such as water and soil, including peat; and
- secure enhancement of and improvements to ecosystem resilience by improving diversity, condition, extent and connectivity of ecological networks.
Biodiversity and Resilience of Ecosystems Duty (Section 6 Duty) 5.7.5
The Council seeks to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the exercise of its functions. This means development should not cause any significant loss of habitats or populations of species, locally or nationally and must provide a net benefit for biodiversity. In doing so planning authorities must also take account of and promote the resilience of ecosystems, in particular the following aspects:
- diversity between and within ecosystems;
- the connections between and within ecosystems;
- the scale of ecosystems;
- the condition of ecosystems including their structure and functioning; and
- the adaptability of ecosystems.
In fulfilling this duty, the Council has regard to: 5.7.6
- the list of habitats and species of principal importance for Wales, published under Section 7 of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016;
- the SoNaRR, published by NRW; and
- any Area Statement that covers all or part of the area in which the authority exercises its functions. Area Statements will be prepared by NRW which will also inform the Green Infrastructure Assessment.
Maintaining and Enhancing Biodiversity 5.7.7
Conwy will follow a step-wise approach to maintain and enhance biodiversity and build resilient ecological networks by ensuring that any adverse environmental effects are firstly avoided, then minimized, mitigated, and as a last resort compensated for; enhancement must be secured wherever possible.
- Conwy will first seek to avoid damage to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.
- Where there may be harmful environmental effects, the Council and collaborative bodies will need to be satisfied that any reasonable alternative sites that would result in less harm, no harm or gain have been fully considered. The Council will ensure that features and elements of biodiversity or green infrastructure value are retained on site, and enhanced or created where ever possible, by adopting best practice site design and green infrastructure principles. The provision of up to date ecological survey information will assist in this process.
- Where necessary, the Council will seek to modify the development proposal through discussion with the applicant.
Biodiversity and green infrastructure modifications should draw on the issues and opportunities identified through the Green Infrastructure Assessment. 5.7.8
The Council will protect trees, hedgerows, groups of trees and areas of woodland where they have ecological value, contribute to the character or amenity of a particular locality, or perform a beneficial and identified green infrastructure function. 5.7.9
The Council will consider the importance of native woodland and valued trees, and will have regard SPG. Permanent removal of woodland will only be permitted where it would achieve significant and clearly defined public benefits. Where woodland or trees are removed as part of a proposed scheme, developers will be expected to provide compensatory planting to the agreement of the Council. 5.7.10
Ancient woodland and semi-natural woodlands and individual ancient, veteran and heritage trees are irreplaceable natural resources, and have significant landscape, biodiversity and cultural value. Such trees and woodlands are afforded protection from development which would result in their loss or deterioration unless there are significant and clearly defined public benefits; this protection will prevent potentially damaging operations and their unnecessary loss. In the case of a site recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, authorities will consider the advice of NRW. These assets will be mapped in the Green Infrastructure Assessment. 5.7.11
Designated Sites 5.7.12
Statutorily designated sites in Conwy make a vital contribution to protecting biodiversity and can also be important in providing opportunities for achieving wider well-being objectives.
The RLDP has regard to the relative significance of international, national and local designations in considering the weight to be attached to nature conservation interests. Further guidance, particularly in relation to Natura 2000 sites, is contained in TAN 5: Nature Conservation and Planning. The supporting reasoning for the designation at all levels and an outline of the qualifying features of the designation should be clearly recorded as part of the Green Infrastructure Assessment and considered in the RLDP when designing new development proposals and in future development management decisions. Differentiation will be given to the relative significance of the designation within the hierarchy, when considering the weight to be attached to nature conservation interests. 5.7.13
Protection and Management of Designated Sites
Statutorily designated sites will be protected from damage and deterioration, with their important features conserved and enhanced by appropriate management. Opportunities to restore networks of habitats to a healthy condition will be identified as a result of undertaking the Green Infrastructure Assessment along with the identification of appropriate interventions to secure delivery against the aspects of resilience, diversity, connectivity, scale, condition and adaptability.
Table 7: Designated Sites Hierarchy
Statutorily and Non Statutorily Protected Sites
Special Areas of Conservation
Special Protection Area
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Site of Special Scientific Interest
National Nature Reserve
Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation
Local Nature Reserve
Local Wildlife Sites
Sites of Special Scientific Interest 5.7.14
SSSIs are of national importance. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as amended by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, places a duty on all public bodies, including planning authorities, to take reasonable steps, consistent with the proper exercise of their functions, to further the conservation and enhancement of the features by reason of which a SSSI is of special interest. SSSIs can be damaged by developments within or adjacent to their boundaries, and in some cases, by development some distance away. There is a presumption against development likely to damage a SSSI and this presumption should be appropriately reflected in RLDP policies and development management decisions. For the purposes of land use planning proposed SSSIs will be treated in the same way as notified SSSIs.
Water, Air, Soundscape and Light
Strategic Objective 15 (SO15): Reduce exposure to air and noise pollution, balance the provision of development and lighting to enhance safety and security, and protect and enhance the water environment and water resources, including surface and groundwater quantity and quality. 5.8.1
Water, Air, Soundscape and Light Strategic Policy SP/25
The RLDP will reduce exposure to air and noise pollution, balance the provision of development and lighting to enhance safety and security, and protect and enhance the water environment and water resources, including surface and groundwater quantity and quality
Recognising the Environmental Qualities of Places: Water and Flood Risk 5.8.2
As well as a direct requirement for life, well planned water services provide a range of benefits and services for society. The water industry itself is a source of green jobs and water services support energy and food production, recreation and tourism, and connect homes and businesses to the infrastructure networks upon which they depend. As well as this existing natural ecosystems play an important role in providing water quality and flood management. Water supply is normally sourced from a water undertaker, but in remote areas private water supplies may be the only viable option.
Development and Water Supply 5.8.3
Water resources and quality are taken into account from an early stage in the process of identifying land for development and redevelopment with collaboration with Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water. The protection of water resources should be based on ensuring sustainable use in the future. Water intensive uses may not be appropriate in areas of water shortage and constraint. New development will be located and implemented with sustainable provision of water services in mind, using design approaches and techniques which improve water efficiency and minimise adverse impacts on water resources, including the ecology of rivers, wetlands and groundwater and thereby contributing towards ecological resilience.
Capacity of Water Supply and Sewerage/Drainage Infrastructure 5.8.4
The adequacy of water supply and sewerage infrastructure will be fully considered when proposing development in the RLDP, both as a water service and because of the consequential environmental and amenity impacts associated with a lack of capacity. The planning system has an important part to play in ensuring that the infrastructure on which communities and businesses depend is adequate to accommodate proposed development. Collaboration with service providers and NRW has taken place with regards to service provision, development and protection of water catchment areas.
Water Quality and Surface Water Flooding 5.8.5
Increased rainfall intensity presents challenges for drainage systems, causing surface water flooding and diffuse pollution. The relationship between the various types of drainage infrastructure is complex, for example, some highway drains carry surface water from public sewers and some highway infrastructure discharges into public sewers. Understanding the role which the various types of infrastructure play is important in securing the best approach to avoid both flooding and diffuse pollution. Effective collaboration between drainage, highway and planning authorities has been carried out in informing the Strategy and RLDP.
Diffuse pollution and surface water flooding arise as a result of run-off from built surfaces, from potentially polluting development types and through sewage discharges from overloaded sewers or from private infrastructure, for example, septic tanks. The Council will seek to secure better management of drainage and surface water so as to tackle these issues by: 5.8.6
- ensuring sustainable drainage systems are incorporated into development enabling surface water to be managed close to or at source; and
- ensuring connection to the sewer in sewered areas and by minimising the proliferation of private sewage systems.
Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and Development 5.8.7
The provision of SuDS will be considered as an integral part of the design of new development and considered at the earliest possible stage when formulating proposals for new development. In guiding new development the planning system should ensure the incorporation of measures at an individual site scale, particularly in urban areas, in order to secure cumulative benefits over a wider area. A concerted effort of this nature will bring benefits over a whole catchment. At a development plan level, however, there will be considerable advantages associated with developing collaborative approaches which, drawing on evidence obtained through green infrastructure assessments to integrate SuDS as part of growth strategies for particular areas.
New developments of more than one dwelling or where the area covered by construction work equals or exceeds 100 square metres also require approval from the SuDS Approval Body (SAB) before construction can commence. Adoption and management arrangements, including a funding mechanism for maintenance of SuDS infrastructure and all drainage elements are to be agreed by the SAB as part of this approval. This will ensure that SuDS infrastructure is properly maintained and functions effectively for its design life. 5.8.8
Clean air and an appropriate soundscape contribute to a positive experience of Conwy as well as being necessary for public health, amenity and well-being. They are indicators of local environmental quality and integral qualities of place which should be protected through preventative or proactive action through the planning system. Conversely, air, noise and light pollution can have negative effects on people, biodiversity and the resilience of ecosystems and should be reduced as far as possible.
National air quality objectives are not considered 'safe' levels of air pollution. Rather they represent a pragmatic threshold above which government considers the health risks associated with air pollution are unacceptable. Air just barely compliant with these objectives is not 'clean' and still carries long-term population health risks. Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which are the pollutants of primary national concern from a public health perspective, currently have no safe threshold defined and therefore the lower the concentration of those pollutants the lower the risks of adverse health effects. It is desirable to keep levels of pollution as low as possible. 5.8.10
There are no Air Quality Management Areas in Conwy. All the monitoring work has shown that even in proximity to the areas where the traffic is at its highest the level is still well in compliance with National Air Quality Objectives. As such there are no pollution reduction targets however Conwy will remain committed to air quality improvements and decarbonisation targets set out in the transport and Renewable Energy sections. The latest Air Quality report is available on the CCBC website. 5.8.11
Problematic forms of sound are generally experienced as noise pollution and can affect amenity and be prejudicial to health or a nuisance. Noise action plans drawn up by public bodies aim to prevent and reduce noise levels where necessary and preserve soundscape quality where it is good. Noise levels used to identify priority areas contained in noise action plans are usually set quite high in order to focus resources on the most polluted areas and noise must meet a number of tests before it qualifies as a statutory nuisance. Lower levels of noise, however, can still be annoying or disruptive and impact on amenity and as such should be protected through the planning process wherever necessary. The planning system must protect amenity and it is not acceptable to rely on statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to do so.
In proposing new development, the Council and developers will, therefore: 5.8.13
- address any implication arising as a result of its association with, or location within, air quality management areas, noise action planning priority areas or areas where there are sensitive receptors;
- not create areas of poor air quality or inappropriate soundscape; and
- seek to incorporate measures which reduce overall exposure to air and noise pollution and create appropriate soundscapes.
There is a need to balance the provision of lighting to enhance safety and security to help in the prevention of crime and to allow activities like sport and recreation to take place with the need to:
- protect the natural and historic environment including wildlife and features of the natural environment such as tranquillity;
- retain dark skies where appropriate;
- prevent glare and respect the amenity of neighbouring land uses; and
- reduce the carbon emissions associated with lighting.
There is a Dark Sky Reserve in Snowdonia however this does not fall within or adjacent to the Plan Area. However through the GIA, Conwy will assess the economic and environmental characteristics of dark sky areas in the plan area and the RLDP will introduce policies for considering individual development proposals. 5.8.15
Strategic Objective 13 (SO13): Support growth, regeneration and development opportunities in Coastal Areas, whilst at the same time being aware and responsive to the challenges resulting from natural pressures. 5.9.1
Flooding Strategic Policy SP/26
To be globally responsive by ensuring long-term protection and adaption to flood risk as well as de-risking in line with national guidance, whilst achieving wider landscape, habitat, air quality, biodiversity and sustainable travel goals. New development should reduce, and must not increase, flood risk arising from river and/or coastal flooding on and off the development site itself.
The priority should be to protect the undeveloped or unobstructed floodplain from development and to prevent the cumulative effects of incremental development.
Cohesive Communities are sustained and created by providing spaces for people to interact and undertake community activities, including recreational spaces, play, food growing and opportunities to connect with nature. Pollution or risks such as flooding are mitigated or avoided and based on maximising opportunities for communities to flourish and undertake social, economic and cultural activities in healthy, attractive and pleasant surroundings.
The Council acknowledges the need to adapt to the effects of climate change. The combination of global warming that has already occurred, together with additional warming, as projected by the latest climate change evidence, means there are potentially significant impacts for Conwy and Wales in terms of adaptation. The challenges include flooding and coastal change risks to communities, businesses and infrastructure; risks to health, wellbeing and productivity from high temperatures; risk of water shortages in the public water supply, agriculture, energy generation and industry and risks to soil, biodiversity and terrestrial, coastal, marine and freshwater habitats. 5.9.3
Climate change is also likely to have significant impacts on landscape character, historic buildings, local distinctiveness and quality, directly through changing land cover, migrating habitat and species ranges, and indirectly by influencing land use decisions. 5.9.4
A joint approach will be taken in relation to issues which cross administrative boundaries, such as taking a catchment approach towards flood risk where actions across a catchment have implications at various different locations and scales. 5.9.5
Addressing flood risk as part of an integrated approach towards de-risking may be useful where there is a strong imperative to fulfil the regeneration potential of an area. This may include considering relocation options within and beyond the Plan Period. 5.9.6
Development on the Coast 5.9.7
Development should not normally be proposed in coastal locations unless it needs to be on the coast. In particular, undeveloped coastal areas will rarely be the most appropriate location for development. Where new development requires a coastal location, developed coastal areas will normally provide the best option, provided that issues associated with coastal change have been taken into account. Such issues include the risks of erosion, flooding, land instability, and the preferred approaches to address such risks, and impacts on biodiversity and ecological resilience.
Temporary forms of development may not have adverse impacts on coastal characteristics or coastal change yet offer an opportunity to facilitate tourism based activities. Care is needed, however, to ensure risks such as flooding can be acceptably managed, particularly for sensitive uses where occupants may reasonably expect to be safe from coastal risks. 5.9.8
The potential for conflict may arise where the impacts of sea level rise and development, including coastal management, may impact on inter-tidal habitats or historic assets. Preserving the resilience of such environments should be given appropriate consideration as part of preparing development plans and in making planning decisions. 5.9.9
Guidance will be taken from collaborative working with NRW on specific site issues as well as information provided in: 5.9.10
- National Strategy for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in Wales, Welsh Government, 2011 :
- Flood and Water Management Act 2010 :
- TAN 15.
Other designations and influences 5.9.11
Other factors have a bearing on how flood risk and its management changes urban form are discussed in other Chapters and include:
- Landscape and designated Special Landscape Areas (SLAs) and other important landscape features are protected.
- Biodiversity and Ecological Networks.
- Designated Sites particularly in relation to Natura 2000 sites, is contained in TAN 5: Nature Conservation and Planning.
- Coastal Areas and Coastal Change
- Water and Flood Risk
- Transport Infrastructure and Active Travel