Air Quality Positive: Implications for Developers

Air Quality Positive

The publication of the new London Plan in 2021 introduced a requirement for large scale developments, including those subject to formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to adopt an Air Quality Positive approach throughout the design process. The aim of which is to help identify and deliver improvements to air quality throughout London.

With the Mayor of London, through the Greater London Authority, requesting an Air Quality Positive Statement in support of planning applications, but with final guidance on how this should be achieved not due to be released until later in 2022, what can developers do to ensure compliance?

When is an Air Quality Positive Statement Necessary?

In March 2021, the Mayor of London published the long anticipated New London Plan. This sets out a framework for development over the next 20-25 years and provides the Mayor’s vision for Good Growth. In simple terms, it outlines a range of planning policies which inform how London should sustainably grow and develop in the future.

Included within the London Plan is Policy SI 1 – Improving Air Quality. This outlines ways in which development plans should seek opportunities to identify and deliver improvements to air quality. A number of the requirements of SI 1, such as Air Quality Neutral, have been carried over from the previous London Plan and are now well established components of the planning process. Included alongside these familiar conditions, the updated London Plan also contains the new expectation that masterplans and large-scale developments, including those subject to an EIA, must also take an Air Quality Positive approach.

What is an Air Quality Positive Approach?

The Air Quality Positive approach requires planners, designers, architects and air quality experts to identify and implement measures to achieve best possible outcomes for air quality. These are included throughout the design stages and evidenced within an Air Quality Positive Statement. This subsequently demonstrates how the development has:

  • Gone beyond compliance with air quality neutral benchmarks.
  • Considered air quality holistically throughout the design process.
  • Secured maximum benefits to local air quality.

In full, the Air Quality Positive Statement should contain:

  • The steps taken to analyse air quality and identify opportunities for improvement as part of the design process.
  • How air quality improvements have informed the design choices made about layout and distribution of buildings, amenity spaces and infrastructure.
  • The steps taken to promote the uptake and use of sustainable and zero-emission modes of transport. This may include specific measures in transport plans or delivery against Healthy Streets indicators.
  • The steps taken to reduce air pollutant emissions from the buildings or associated energy centres beyond minimum requirements. This may include measures in heating masterplans or working with heat network providers to reduce or eliminate emissions.
  • The steps taken to evaluate and secure the specific measures identified to deliver air quality improvements. This includes any requirement for detailed design specifications to ensure that the final development meets the desired performance.

How Can We Help?

As expert Air Quality Consultants, we have experience of guiding Applicant’s through the Air Quality Positive requirements and producing the final Air Quality Positive Statement. This includes embedding measures into the design through close collaboration with the project team. As a result, we can show the final proposals to be policy compliant. For further details of one of our recent projects then please see our case study.

For further information on how we can assist with your project, or to request a quote or proposal, please call and speak to one of our Air Quality Consultants today, or contact us online.


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