Developers will help save animal habitats

Cash from developers will be used to protect wildlife habitats
Cash from developers will be used to protect wildlife habitats

Defence is key to South East’s growth

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DEVELOPMENT firms will now be putting money towards the protection of wildlife.

At a Gosport Borough Council meeting last night, councillors approved the Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy, meaning developers will have to pay up to save protected birds and natural habitats.

The scheme will be implemented across the town, with funding coming from developer contributions, depending on the number of bedrooms per property.

This will fund the creation of new green spaces, education initiatives and projects to provide secure habitats for birds.

It will also pay for a team of rangers who will look after the protected areas, as well as giving advice to locals and organising events in the area.

On average, developers will pay £564 a year for each house. A one-bedroom house will cost developers £337 per year, with prices rising up to a five-bedroom house, costing £880 per year.

The strategy was designed by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire (PUSH), chaired by leader of Fareham Borough Council Cllr Sean Woodward.

According to Cllr Woodward, the strategy is already in place in Fareham, Havant and Portsmouth.

He said: ‘Put simply, the idea is that developers pay to mitigate the damage caused by new residential developments.

‘The reaction from the developers is overwhelmingly positive, because they don’t have to create their own mitigation scheme.

But Mark Behrendt, planning manager at the Home Builders Federation, says that this strategy could be a barrier to entry for smaller developers.

He said: ‘On their own these costs are not prohibitive but councils need to consider the cumulative impact of all the additional policy costs being placed on new developments.

‘Smaller developers in particular will be affected by increased costs and buracracy.

‘Of particular concern is that all the mitigation costs are being placed on house builders when it is clear that more significant additional impacts can come from increased tourism and demographic change.

‘Whilst appreciating that the approach being taken allows new homes to be built, it should be recognised that the additional impacts are not all related to new homes.’

The chairman of Gosport Borough Council’s economic development board, Cllr Stephen Philpott said: ‘If it wasn’t given to them in this format the developers would have to devise their own strategy, so developers are on board with it.

‘Hotspots have already been identified in the area.

Cllr June Cully said: ‘We don’t want to disturb nesting birds, but we don’t want to put people off of building affordable homes, or just providing us with one-bedroom dwellings to cut costs.