Sector - Environment

Planners Green-light BNG-ready Sheffield social housing scheme

Building work on 26 homes as part of a new social housing scheme near Sheffield city centre has commenced following a deal between Hoober Urban Partnerships and York-based biodiversity net gain specialists Environment Bank. The scheme will provide vital, high-quality homes for local people, just three miles from the heart of the city.

The housing development, made up of two and three-bedroom properties, is located at Beaumont Road in north Sheffield, on the site of the former Foundry Working Club and Institute. It will be delivered by Hoober Urban Partnerships on behalf of Wakefield District Housing, with funding through Homes England.

Under the deal, Hoober Urban Partnerships has purchased Biodiversity Units from Environment Bank’s nearby Bolsterstone Habitat Bank on the edge of the Peak District. The purchase of Biodiversity Units, and the subsequent Biodiversity Unit Purchase Certificate, has enabled the Rotherham-based developer to discharge its BNG planning conditions through Sheffield City Council local planning authority (LPA), allowing building work to commence.

Speaking about the partnership, Environment Bank Principal Planner, Sean Rooney, said; “Working collaboratively with Hoober Urban Partnerships and Sheffield City Council, we supported the partners to get this vital social housing project over the line. With the deadline for funding from Homes England looming, and all on-site BNG delivery options exhausted, we needed to be able to provide Biodiversity Units to the developer quickly.

“Because we have established such a large network of Habitat Banks, providing Biodiversity Units across so many LPA areas in England, we were able to deliver an up-front support package through our nearby Bolsterstone site. This is just a short distance from the new development and within the same LPA area. The Units include lowland meadows and mixed scrub, and will deliver local, high-quality nature restoration for the next 30 years, in line with regulations set by Defra.”

Under legislation passed in February 2024, almost all new developments in England must outline in planning applications how they will make a 10% net gain for biodiversity, restoring any habitats impacted on the land used for building. Without a clear plan for nature restoration, planning permission will be refused.

Stacey Chappell, Head of Design and Technical at Hoober Homes, said; “Our aim on this project was to achieve planning consent with no pre-commencement planning conditions to allow an effective start on site for Wakefield District Housing, supporting them also to unlock funding through Homes England.

“We were on a tight timeframe but working closely with Environment Bank and Sheffield City Council’s local planning authority, we found a Biodiversity Unit solution that benefits both local people and the environment. We’re delighted to be delivering this new social housing project for the local community.”

Work is already underway on the site.

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