Natural Cambridgeshire

Developing with Nature Toolkit

The Natural Cambridgeshire Local Nature Partnership (LNP) wishes to enhance the natural environment of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and to see all developments contribute to our policy objective of achieving a net gain in biodiversity through new development.

Greater Cambridgeshire is one of the fastest growing areas within England, with plans for significant additional development and major infrastructure to provide tens of thousands of new homes and significant new employment opportunities over the coming decades. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) promotes sustainable development, which requires moving from net losses in biodiversity to net gains and for development to enhance the natural environment, including natural capital or ecosystem services.

Our natural environment underpins our economy and our wellbeing by providing wide-ranging benefits such as clean water and air, food, timber, carbon capture, flood protection and recreation. However, the natural environment is increasingly constrained due to the ongoing impacts of climate change. Natural vegetation, ponds and lakes provide natural cooling in urban environments, trees can help reduce localised air pollution, and high quality greenspaces provide access to nature and have been shown to have multiple benefits for physical and mental health.

New developments which adhere to sound sustainability principles ensure the protection and enhancement of this natural capital by creating high quality multifunctional habitats that support common, threatened and, or declining species. The provision of on-site and wider landscape-scale high quality natural environments also enhances the new development and attracts additional investments. Conversely, new developments neglecting this approach, diminishes both the quantity and quality of the natural environment, its biodiversity and the essential benefits and services these provide.

We’ve developed a Toolkit to help developers and infrastructure providers to demonstrate their commitment to achieving a net biodiversity gain to the public, local authorities or shareholders. The Toolkit comprises a simple list of 10 Things to do for Nature. The Toolkit is primarily intended for major developments requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment (new settlements, major urban extensions, housing developments above 100 dwellings, commercial developments greater than 1 Ha or 1,000m² floor space, mixed use developments greater than 2 Ha, or major transport infrastructure projects). It should be used at the very outset of planning new developments, and ideally at the time of selecting sites to acquire for development.