Future Homes Hub and Planning Advisory Service launches BNG Online

The new free digital guide will offer local planning authorities and developers guidance on implementing England's Biodiversity Net Gain policy.

Related topics:  Development,  Biodiversity,  BNG
Property | Reporter
2nd April 2024
Bio Diversity 713
"Biodiversity Net Gain is a transformational opportunity to revitalise nature and communities across England, but it won’t fulfil this potential without digital tools to manage the complex data involved"
- Dr Matthew Brown - Verna

Future Homes Hub and the Planning Advisory Service have today launched ‘BNG Online’ – a free digital resource offering Local Planning Authorities and planning applicants practical guidance and advice on complying with Biodiversity Net Gain. The service is launched as an initial ‘beta’ version and we welcome your feedback as we develop the site.

Built-in collaboration with tech start-ups Joe's Blooms and Verna, BNG Online has been developed to help LPAs and the development sector prepare for BNG, with PAS providing the guidance for LPAs and Future Homes Hub for SME developers. It has also received input from the National Federation of Builders and a range of construction industry leaders.

As well as providing advice, the website directs users to a range of digital tools that can help local planners and builders meet BNG requirements. These include the world’s first digital tool designed to help small developers comply with BNG, namely the Biodiversity Net Gain Tool launched last week by Joe’s Blooms, and Verna’s Mycelia software which helps LPAs to manage BNG.

This comes as BNG today becomes mandatory for small site developments in England, meaning over 29,000 planning applications a month are now subject to the laws.

BNG is a first-of-its-kind planning policy that requires developers to invest in measures that increase the amount of plants and wildlife in the local area by 10% to secure planning permission. Hailed globally as pioneering legislation, it has been called “the most important nature policy in the world” by the Harvard Kennedy School.

Research by Joe’s Blooms shows BNG will create over 23,500 football pitches worth of natural habitat each year, and this green space will in turn absorb up to 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of nearly 200,000 round-trip flights from London to New York.

BNG Online will continue to be updated following feedback from LPAs and planning applicants and in line with any policy changes brought forward by the Government.

Martin Hutchings, Principal Adviser for Local Plans at Planning Advisory Service, said: “BNG is not just a post-permission matter; it is essential that applicants and LPAs work together early and throughout the planning application process.

"We have created BNG Online to help both applicants and LPAs factor BNG considerations in as early as possible. We will update and improve the resource as we learn more about what works best when processing planning applications that include the delivery of the mandatory 10% BNG.”

Ed Lockhart, Chief Executive Officer of Future Homes Hub, added: “Biodiversity Net Gain is a brilliant concept meaning that every new home we build also improves nature but we need to make sure that it works in practice. That’s why the Future Homes Hub is working with Planning Advisory Service on BNG online to provide the tools and support homebuilders and Local Authorities need to incorporate biodiversity seamlessly into the development process.”

Oliver Lewis CBE, Founder of Joe’s Blooms, added: “We’re pleased to have helped the Planning Advisory Service and Future Homes Hub develop this comprehensive user guide for local planners and developers alike.

"They will provide much-needed guidance to LPAs and builders of all sizes, as well as pointing them toward simple and affordable digital solutions like Joe’s Blooms that allow small sites to complete BNG quickly and get back to building the homes and infrastructure we need.”

Dr Matthew Brown, Co-CEO of Verna, said: “Biodiversity Net Gain is a transformational opportunity to revitalise nature and communities across England, but it won’t fulfil this potential without digital tools to manage the complex data involved.

"The UK’s world-leading nature-tech sector is rising to this challenge, and we’re proud that Verna’s Mycelia software is helping councils up and down the country to get the best out of BNG.”

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