EAST Hampshire District Council has launched a consultation on ambitions to make the planning process greener than ever.
The council plans to consult residents and developers on zero-carbon planning proposals in a supplementary planning document.
The online consultation was approved by the council’s planning policy committee just days before Christmas and will run until February 2.
The document makes clear the environmental standards expected from house builders and how they can be achieved.
It will contain information on energy efficiency, using locally-resourced materials, site design, house orientation, tree planting and a raft of ways new developments can be environmentally efficient.
It will also clarify current planning policies and set out expected targets, giving developers guidance on meeting them.
Council leader Richard Millard said: "The supplementary planning document will make it clear what our current policies demand.
"It will also provide advice to help home builders reach these high environmental standards."
But for at least two years the document will just be a ’preferred advisory guide’ more than an enforcible policy.
This is because the council is between Local Plans and the expiring one determines current planning policy.
Cllr Millard added: "Local Plan policies cannot be changed during its lifetime, so we will have to wait for our zero-carbon homes.
"But we are pushing to make our next Local Plan the greenest it can be, with zero-carbon homes becoming standard practice across the district.
"Until that plan can be adopted we must make the best possible use of the planning policies in the current Local Plan that we use.
"But in the supplementary planning document we can provide the extra detail and information developers need now to make new homes as green as they can be."
It is hoped the new Local Plan covering the parts of East Hampshire outside the national park will come into effect in 2023.
It will then bring to life the supplementary planning document policies in it aimed at ensuring developers build as near zero-carbon homes as possible.
But the new Local Plan can be adopted only after approval by a government inspector.
And the environmental and green policies it contains may be too stringent for the inspector’s taste.
Cllr Millard said: "The inspector may not be inclined to approve all the proposed green planning policies in the new Local Plan that will be enforcible by our planning officers.
"But the council is prepared to stand firm on this, and we are happy to challenge the government over that view if there is a need to.
"Zero-carbon housing will more and more become the norm, and we aim to be one of the first councils to do that formally through our local plan."
But it is agreed that a zero carbon policy, including measures such as solar panels and ground source energy pumps, won’t come cheap.
So it is almost certain developers will pass on the cost through increased house prices.
Cllr Millard added: "Buyers are looking for green homes and it’s a cost I think they will accept, as energy-efficient houses are vital in reducing our carbon footprint and so help contain climate change."
The supplementary planning document consultation can be found on the council’s website at www.easthants.gov.uk/planning-policy/consultation
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