Consolidation of Environmental Sensitivity Testing

In 2008, North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit commissioned RNRP to undertake an environmental sensitivity analysis on sites that had been put forward as part of the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), to identify suitably sustainable sites for development between 2021 and 2031. The environmental sensitivity study was part of a wider study undertaken by Roger Tym and Partners. Following on from the 2008 study, RNRP was commissioned by East Northamptonshire Council to undertake a supplementary study in support of the Rural North, Oundle and Thrapston Plan (RNOTP).

Although the criteria for each of these studies was different, and the latter being largely rapid desk based studies supplemented by limited ground-truthing, all identified sites of high, medium or low sensitivity of three landscape elements, visual landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage, in relation to their potential to accept mixed use development. Whilst all three studies were presented in map form, with the relative sensitivities shown in red, orange or yellow, representing high, medium and low sensitivity to mixed use development for each landscape element, only the 2005 study included a composite map representing the combined or aggregated sensitivities.

This study provides a comparison of the three methodologies and the criteria used and critically examines each against their potential to inform the decision making process for future growth. This critique concludes that, whilst there are differences between the studies, in the relationship of the sites and the numerical values used in the scoring of their relative sensitivity, there is a consistency in their approach that allows them to be consolidated into a single study represented by elemental maps and a map of the composite sensitivity of the sites included in the three individual studies.

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Date Published : 2nd February 2010

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