Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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News Release issued by the Government News Network on 20 July 2009

Coastal communities will get new planning powers to help their local economy and tourist industry, Housing and Planning Minister John Healey announced today.

Temporary, cost effective recreation projects such as beach huts, cafes and car-parks that can boost the local economy will be considered by councils in areas at risk of coastal erosion for the first time.

Under new planning policy, published for consultation today, all inappropriate residential development such as housing will continue to be banned in areas vulnerable to coastal erosion. But there will no longer be a blanket ban on temporary development that has wider economic benefits, an acceptable coastal use and could be relocated when required.

John Healey said:

“What we’re hearing from coastal communities is that right now temporary development that would be beneficial to the area’s economy and tourist industry is unable to go ahead. It’s really important for local business that they can keep going at this time of economic difficulties.

“That’s why we’re proposing to change the planning rules to allow safe time-limited development such as beach huts, car-parks and cafes to be built in coastal areas if there’s an economic benefit.

“Coastal communities are having to think hard about their long-term future and viability as climate change accelerates the risk of coastal erosion. It’s vital that we react to environmental challenges as well as economic challenges and ensure that coastal communities can carry on.”

Significant sections of the coast of England including Suffolk, Lincolnshire, north Norfolk and East Riding are affected by coastal erosion, which may speed up because of climate change.

The Environment Agency is currently mapping coastal erosion rates for the next hundred years giving communities a better idea of how the changing coastline will affect them. The erosion information is very closely linked to the Shoreline Management Plans and will be published alongside the SMPs between autumn 2009 and 2011.

In response to this new information Communities and Local Government is publishing its new planning policy on managing coastal change Development and Coastal Change for consultation.

Councils will be able to use the SMPs and the erosion information from the Environment Agency which predicts erosion for the next 20, 50 and 100 years to help make their decisions.

The policy proposal comes a month after Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the publication of Defra’s coastal change consultation, outlining how best coastal communities – including businesses, individuals and local infrastructure – can adapt to coastal change.

Mr Benn said:

“I welcome these plans which complement our own coastal change adaptation proposals published in June. We are working across Government to ensure we support communities as they adapt to coastal change.”

Within the short-term risk areas only a limited range of development linked directly to the coastal strip such as beach huts, cafes/tea rooms, car parks and sites used for holiday or short-let caravans and camping will be allowed.

Within the medium to long-term risk areas (i.e. the 50 to 100 epochs) a wider range of time-limited development, such as hotels, shops, office or leisure activities requiring a coastal location and providing substantial economic and social benefits to the community, may be appropriate.

Councils will also ensure the development will be safe through its planned lifetime and doesn’t do any damage to the coastline.

The new policy aims to strike the right balance between economic prosperity and adaptation to coastal change.

For example along the coast of north Norfolk, where its soft cliffs fronted by beaches, are highly susceptible to erosion planners are providing space for the coastline to recede (a buffer), but also want to safeguard the interests of communities affected by erosion.

It’s important not to prevent development that would pose little or no risk to people and property so as to help maintain the vitality and viability of coastal communities.

Councils must also carry out a strategic risk-based approach to managing future physical changes to the coastline for the long-term adaptation of communities.

As well as allowing necessary temporary development that is appropriate and safe councils should be facilitating the roll back and relocation of development over time to safer locations.

It will also introduce a more coordinated approach to planning and investment at the coast, ensuring that spatial strategies to deliver regeneration and sustainable economic development take proper account of the impact of physical processes affecting the coastline and decisions regarding the planning and management of coastal defences.

This will link in with the consultation published by Defra last month which set out ideas for how coastal communities can successfully adapt to the impacts of coastal change, and Government’s role in supporting this.

The consultation on the proposed new policy statement on coastal change will close on 12 Oct

1. Key policies in Development and Coastal Change include:

• Ensuring a broad consideration of the impacts of coastal change in preparing spatial plans at regional and local level and in considering planning applications, recognising their long-term nature and the inherent uncertainty in our understanding of coastal processes.

• Avoiding inappropriate development in areas vulnerable to coastal change, but recognising that activities that require a coastal location such as recreation and tourism may provide economic benefit to communities. Where such wider sustainability benefits exist, these types of development may be permitted where the lifetime of the development can be managed within the time-frame of the expected coastal change impact.

• Expecting planning authorities to define a ‘Coastal Change Management Area’ (CCMA) in which the policy applies, related to the area likely to be affected by coastal change based on the best information available.

• Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) (and the forthcoming integrated strategies) and Local Development Frameworks (LDFs) promote policies to assist the relocation of development affected by coastal change away from areas at risk;

• Shoreline Management Plans outline the management policies for each section of the coast: hold the line, advance the line, no active intervention, and managed realignment.

• Coastal change impacts to be considered alongside wider social, economic and environmental spatial policy objectives, and be integrated effectively with other strategies and plans of significance to the coast (such as Regional Economic Strategies) to secure a positive contribution towards managing the impacts from coastal change in a coherent and sustainable way.

2. The proposed new policy statement is available at: ationcoastal

3. Strong planning policy to manage coastal flooding is already in place. The policy, contained in Planning Policy Statement 25, ensures that flood risk is taken into account at all stages in the planning process to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk from all sources of flooding, and to direct development away from areas at highest risk. Where new development is necessary in such areas, the policy aims to make it safe without increasing flood risk elsewhere and where possible, reducing flood risk overall.

4. Currently, planning decisions in relation to coastal erosion risks are made with reference to Planning Policy Guidance 20 (PPG20). PPG 20 adopts a strongly precautionary approach, restricting any development in areas at risk of coastal erosion. Stakeholders have told us that this has resulted in a sub-optimal position whereby even appropriate development that would be beneficial to the sustainability of a community is unable to go ahead.

5. The Development and Coastal Change policy focuses on managing the impacts of physical changes to the coast on development. It does not repeat national planning policy relevant or applicable to coastal areas that is contained in other national planning policy documents and should be read alongside the national PPS/G series. It complements PPS25 Development and Flood Risk.

6. The intention is that, following consultation, the finalised policy will be published as a supplement to PPS25. This will replace the policy on managing the impacts of coastal erosion to development set out in Planning Practice Guide 20 Coastal Planning. Since all other relevant policies set out in PPG20 are now within the PPS series, PPG20 will then be cancelled.

7. The new policy on managing the impacts of coastal erosion to development will be supported by a practice guide which will be finalised and published at the same time. The new policy on managing the impacts of coastal erosion to development will then be combined with the policy in PPS25, as a consolidated, streamlined PPS on development and flooding and coastal change.

8. The consultation forms part of a wider package of actions being taken forward by Defra to deliver the Government’s sustainable flood and coastal risk management approach set out in the ‘Making Space for Water’ strategy. The ‘Coastal Change Policy Framework’, issued for consultation on 15 June 2009, proposes a package of policy measures to help coastal communities and local authorities manage and adapt to the increasing risk of coastal flooding and erosion.

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