Natural England releases new Habitat Management Template and Guide for Small Sites

Natural England has now officially published the Small Sites Metric Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan Template and the associated Habitat Guide, which can both be found on the Habitat Management and Monitoring Plan Template Access to Evidence page. This guidance will allow Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) to be calculated for small sites using the Small Sites Metric. Small sites are defined as non-major developments under the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 and include:

  • Residential development where the number of dwellings is between 1 and 9 on a site of 1 hectare or less.
  • Commercial development where floor space created is less than 1000 square meters or total site area is less than 1 hectare.
  • Development that is not the winning and working or minerals or the use of land for mineral-working deposits.
  • Development that is not waste development.

It is not possible to use the SSM on all sites defined as ‘small sites’, and the following criteria also need to be met to use the SSM:

  • Where only the habitats in the SSM are present on-site.
    • Any site containing any additional habitats not included in the SSM must use the statutory biodiversity metric calculation tool.
  • Where no priority habitats are present on-site.
    • Some hedgerows and arable field margins are excluded from above as these are medium distinctiveness habitats and are included in the SSM.
  • Where no statutory protected sites or habitats are present.
  • Where no European-protected species are present.

It should be noted that even where the above criteria are met, SSM does not have to be used and the statutory biodiversity metric calculation tool can always be used in its place however, only one biodiversity metric tool should be used for on-site calculation, not a combination of both.

The associated Habitat Guide also published by Natural England should be used as a companion document, as it provides descriptions of proposed habitat types and conditions allowed in the SSM.