Staff Katherine GrayMany things can inhibit the ability to develop a plot of land; Tree Preservation Orders, Flood Zones, Conservation Areas and Highway issues to name a few. But one topic that is on the end of every developer’s lips who work in the Thames Basin area is SANG.

SANG stands for Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space. In 2005 an EU directive imposed restrictions on new developments in close proximity to areas of land (Special Protection Areas – SPA) where ground nesting birds such as the Woodlark, Nightjar and Dartford Warbler are prominent. These restrictions are now within the Birds Directive 1979.

woodlark nestIn essence, no additional residential development will be permitted within 400m of the SPAs, and any development within 400m to 5km needs to provide mitigation. Mitigation is typically provided by way of a monetary contribution towards the purchase and maintenance of SANG. The SANG is essentially a country park to encourage, for example, walkers and dog walkers, to utilise these areas of land which do not contain ground nesting birds, as opposed to using areas that do.

The principle can work in theory, but what happens if Local Authorities do not have SANG land for a developer/land owner to contribute towards? This has been the current issue at Hart District Council for many months now. Large sites, due to their size, have the ability to provide their own on-site SANG within their development proposals. Small sites do not have the space to do this, and as such, small sites within the Settlement Boundaries have been refused simply on the basis of not contributing country parktowards a SANG. This means that appropriate sites, which could have been contributing to the ever increasing need to build more homes, have been refused when, if Hart had the required capacity of SANG, they could have been granted.

Hart have, however, now started the process to rectify this situation. Hart have identified and submitted a planning application to create a new SANG in Fleet at Bramshot Lane, close to the 4a M3 junction. The site was put to a Committee on 8th March and was recommended for approval. If granted, this will be the first step to allowing small, appropriate housing developments to be granted planning permission in Hart District Council. 

Our Land Department will stay keenly informed on this topic as it progresses and impacts on our local area and potential developments.

If you’d like some advice on your development, or have any questions regarding how SANG might impact you, feel free to give our land team a call on 01252 762007 or alternatively e-mail land@mackenziesmith.co.uk.