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Water resources in the central area of the South Downs National Park

Water resources in the central area of the South Downs National Park

Part of the South Downs National Park (and surrounding area) falls within the Sussex North Water Resource (Supply) Zone. This includes parts of the Chichester, Horsham and Arun areas of the SDNP.

The Sussex North Water Resource (Supply) Zone is shown in dark blue on the Southern Water Supply Area map.

This area is served by groundwater abstraction near Pulborough. This has the potential to impact upon the Arun Valley, a Special Area Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site. The hydrology (water quantity and its movement) of the area is essential to maintaining the habitat upon which the designation features/species rely on.

In September 2021, the Authority received advice from Natural England. The full interim advice note is available to view:

Anyone considering submitting planning applications in the affected area is advised to read the guidance note in full.

Development proposals that would lead to a material increase in water demand will need to demonstrate ‘water neutrality’. This means that there would be no increase in water consumption, demonstrated by a combination of water efficiency, water recycling and offsetting measures. This should be demonstrated in a water budget, showing the baseline and proposed water consumption and mitigation measures proposed. This must be submitted as part of the application.

Planning permission will be refused for development in that part of the National Park within the Sussex North Water Resource (Supply) Zone, which is above a set threshold set out below unless the planning application can demonstrate water neutrality.

Type of application SDNPA approach

Householder applications

Permitted development

Most applications excluded from requirement to demonstrate water neutrality. DM officers should work with applicants to secure maximum water efficiency measures possible (SD2, SD17, SD48).
Employment, leisure, retail

250sq.m. or less – Most applications excluded from requirement to demonstrate water neutrality. DM officers should work with applicants to secure maximum water efficiency measures possible (SD2, SD17, SD48).

Above 250 sq.m. – Required to address water neutrality.

Camping/glamping tourism accommodation

5 units or less – Most applications excluded from requirement to demonstrate water neutrality. DM officers should work with applicants to secure maximum water efficiency measures possible (SD2, SD17, SD48).

Above 5 units – Required to address water neutrality.

All other applications All other applications outside of the thresholds set out above are relevant applications that will be required to address water neutrality.
Reserved matters Applications (that are not excluded by above criteria) relating to outline permissions granted prior to the NE position statement will be required to address water neutrality.
Applications with pending Section106 Legal Agreements Applications (that are not excluded by above criteria) with pending Section 106 Legal Agreements will be required to address water neutrality.
Variation of conditions Case-by-case basis.
It should be noted that water neutrality is a rapidly changing area of concern. The guidance above is a working model that may be subject to change. All rights are reserved as the local planning authority and as the competent authority to consider this matter on a case-by-case basis.

 

The matter of water neutrality is area rapidly changing area of concern. The guidance above is a working model that may be subject to change. All rights are reserved as the local planning authority and as the competent authority to consider this matter on a case-by-case basis.

Going forward, the SDNPA are working jointly with other affected Local Planning Authorities on a study and strategy to achieve a strategic solution for development on this matter across the Sussex North Water Resource (Supply) Zone.

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" The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness. "