DESIGN | Energy Efficient / Environmentally Sustainable


5.4.1    13% of UK emissions come from our homes, and the emissions created by heating our homes and businesses account for almost a third of UK emissions. The Climate Change Act passed in 2008 committed the UK to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. [1]  The Government has since then stated an ambition that the UK will be carbon neutral by 2050. At the time of writing the SWNP this has not been backed up by legislation which might, for example, enforce zero carbon emission building standards, except in London. It is expected that this will be rolled out across the UK during the SWNP period.

5.4.2    Energy efficient design is a thoughtful process which helps a home use less energy for heating and cooling. An example is the Passive House (or Passivhaus) standard, in which buildings use very little or no energy. Energy efficient houses can be built in a wide variety of ways, as appropriate to the materials and the location.

5.4.3    Renewable energy is generated from continually self-replenishing natural resources. Households and developments can install renewable technology or micro generation / low carbon technology to generate their own energy, as an alternative to buying all their energy from suppliers. Larger developments would benefit from on-site energy generation.

5.4.5    It is likely that in the future more widespread energy efficient design and increasing implementation of renewable energy will provide residents with sustainable low running cost and low carbon impact homes. When starting a new building from scratch, or extending or adapting an existing building, the greatest results will be achieved through consideration of the following factors in this particular order:

  • Design optimisation (e.g. considering how best to orient the building, where to place windows or provide shade)
  • Fabric improvement (e.g. building in the most effective insulation)
  • Installation of renewable energy sources (e.g solar panels)

This is known as the Energy Hierarchy.

5.4.6    Water resources in the whole of Uttlesford are stressed and planned development will put additional pressure on an already limited supply. The April 2018 Uttlesford District Water Cycle Study describes this and sets out the need for robust policies on water conservation as follows: “The Uttlesford District is partly underlain by a chalk aquifer of regional importance and the Environment Agency currently class the surface water and groundwater resources within the District as over-licensed or over-abstracted, meaning that there is no additional water available for supply. This highlights the importance of further developing policies to encourage the conservation of water in new and existing dwellings and commercial properties.” (Paragraph 1.1)

5.4.7    The Government’s Planning Practice Guidance allows latitude for local plans to set local requirements for environmental sustainability targets, subject to the development schemes remaining financially viable. Neighbourhood plans are not allowed to set higher energy efficient standards than the Local Plan. Nonetheless the SWNP sets out a non-binding policy on construction standards viewed as desirable and which will be binding if and when permitted.

[1]  HM Government: The Clean Growth Strategy – Leading the way to a low carbon future


The following standards are known to be best practice at the time of writing.

Where new development or building extensions or conversions is deemed to be acceptable following other policies in the SWNP, design and construction to these standards is strongly encouraged:

1. Development proposals are encouraged to demonstrate how they have implemented the principles and requirements set out below, unless the proposal is for non-residential development of 1000m² or more and it achieves a BREEAM Outstanding rating. All development proposals are encouraged to meet paragraph 9, below.

2. Land and building should be reused wherever feasible, and where local character and distinctiveness can be enhanced by so doing.

3. Materials arising through demolition and refurbishment, including excavated soil and hardcore, should wherever possible be reused and recycled within the site.

4. Development is encouraged to prioritise the use of materials and construction techniques that have smaller ecological and carbon footprints, help to sustain or create good air quality, and improve resilience to a changing climate where appropriate.

5. Where technically feasible, green roofs and/or walls should be incorporated into the building to improve water management, provide space for biodiversity and aid resilience and adaptation to climate change.

6. The lifecycle of buildings and public spaces should be considered, including how they can be adapted and modified to meet the changing social and economic needs and how materials can be recycled at the end of their lifetime.

7. Adequate and well-designed space should be provided to encourage greater levels of recycling of domestic and commercial waste.

8. The Energy Hierarchy should be implemented within the design of new buildings, by prioritising fabric first, passive design and landscaping measures to minimise energy demand for heating, lighting and cooling.

9. Development proposals are encouraged to demonstrate, for example through an Energy and Climate Statement, that they will achieve the following:

a) A 19% carbon reduction improvement upon the requirements within Building Regulations Approved Document Part L 2013, or achieve any higher standard than this that is required under subsequent national planning policy or Building Regulations;

b) Provision of on-site renewable energy generation, or, should it become available, connection to a renewable or low carbon community energy scheme, that contributes to a further 20% reduction in the residual carbon emissions subsequent to (a) above.

c) Calculate Indoor Air Quality and Overheating Risk performance for proposed new dwellings, and implement a recognised quality regime that ensures that the ‘as built’ performance matches this calculation.

10. All newly constructed buildings are encouraged to achieve an estimated water consumption of no more than 110 litres/person/day.

11. Water reuse and recycling and rainwater harvesting should also be incorporated wherever feasible to reduce demand on mains water supply.

12. Community energy schemes will be supported, subject to the design and location being sensitive to local built and natural landscapes and environment.

13. To future-proof the SWNP: If or when the Local Plan, or national planning practice guidance or Building Regulations supersedes these provisions with higher standards or newer technologies, or permits them to be required, development will be required to meet the higher standards and/or use the newer technologies.

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 2,3


Please use the relevant section numbers as reference markers when writing your comments.

4 Responses

  1. I feel quite passionately about energy efficiency and sustainability and support this policy wholeheartedly. With climate change must come good policies and practices supported by all councils and organisations.
    I was very disappointed when moving into my new-build that there were no solar panels and alternate methods of central heating to gas. I do appreciate however that central government must take the lead on this.

  2. Perhaps there should be a design standard that all gas boilers should be mounted in a position that can easily be replaced by a heat-pump e.g. on an external wall with space outside for the heat pump?

  3. It is so much easier and cost effective to include energy efficiency measures in buildings from the start rather than retrofitting. In so far as SWTC has the ability to impact planning, it should try and push for best practice.

    SW has plenty of old and inefficient buildings, which present more of a challenge. This could be an opportunity though as inefficient buildings are a UK wide issue, but many solutions do now exist, so can we become a trailblazer here? This would probably require a change in attitude with respect to old buildings, and some joined up thinking between the council, community and private sector.

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Neighbourhood Plan Objectives

Objective 1

Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.

Objective 2

Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.

Objective 3

Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.

Objective 4

Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.

Objective 5

Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.


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