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Environment Bank BNG solution unlocks social housing development project in Sheffield

Developer: Hoober Urban Partnerships & Wakefield District
Sector: Residential – Social housing
Region: Yorkshire

LPA: Sheffield City Council
NCA: Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire Coalfield 

Habitat Bank: Bolsterstone, South Yorkshire

Biodiversity Units:  

  • Lowland meadows 
  • Heathland and shrub

About the development project

Developer Hoober Urban Partnerships was under pressure to find a BNG solution for a social housing project being carried out on behalf of Wakefield District Housing involving the construction of 26 new social housing dwellings within three miles of Sheffield city centre. 

With a rapidly approaching deadline to secure funding, Hoober Urban Partnerships needed to source local off-site Biodiversity Units before the end of March 2024. After they reached out to Environment Bank for help, our Principal Planner, Sean Rooney, worked closely with Hoober Urban Partnerships (and Sheffield City Council Planning Department) to successfully provide a complete solution before their deadline.

By providing Biodiversity Units within the Sheffield City Council LPA, we’ve helped to ensure that the associated biodiversity restoration benefits remain local to the development.

Straightforward sales process for off-site BNG

Following discussions with the developer and the local planning authority, we were able to secure the purchase of Biodiversity Units for this project in good time. We then issued a Biodiversity Unit Purchase Certificate, enabling Hoober Urban Partnerships to discharge their BNG planning conditions and begin work on schedule. 

We provided Hoober Urban Partnerships with the full upfront cost of the Biodiversity Units for the required 30-year period, during which time we will undertake all liability for the maintenance and management of the habitats. By doing so, we delivered a clean break for Hoober Urban Partnerships, with no additional legal or agency charges and no ongoing or recurring payments. 

Since this development project was a resubmission, we were really pleased to have been able to help facilitate BNG and allow the building of social housing to advance.

Local, high-integrity Biodiversity Units

After doing everything possible to minimise on-site biodiversity impacts, Hoober Urban Partnerships were initially looking to source Biodiversity Units for grassland and individual trees, but they were unable to secure these locally within such a tight timeframe. Following BNG trading rules, we were able to offer them local Biodiversity Units of a higher habitat distinctiveness classification to compensate. 

We provided lowland meadows and mixed scrub Biodiversity Units from our Bolsterstone Habitat Bank, located a short distance away from the development site and sat within the same local planning authority, Sheffield City Council. Here, we’re restoring the landscape to its historic state, enhancing the woodland, and transforming existing fields into biodiverse meadows and scrubland. 

Sat at the doorstep of the Peak District National Park, this Habitat Bank is helping to create ecological connections between rural and urban spaces in the wider Sheffield area. It sits adjacent to a series of Local Wildlife Sites and lies within Natural England’s Network Expansion Zone. We will continue to manage the Habitat Bank for the next three decades in partnership with the landowner.

We would really like to thank Hoober Urban Partnerships and Sheffield City Council for working collaboratively with us. The council’s cooperation was so valuable, allowing the project to progress and enabling the development of social housing which will no doubt benefit the local authority and its community.

Sean Rooney
Principal Planner
Environment Bank

Our aim on this project was to achieve planning consent with no pre-commencement planning conditions to allow an effective start for our client, Wakefield District Housing, and secure Homes England funding. Environment Bank provided us with a quotation promptly, set very tight timescales, and dealt with this effortlessly. We would recommend them to other developers in similar situations.  
Stacey Chappell
Head of Design & Technical
Hoober Urban Partnership

Find out the cost and availability of Biodiversity Units for your development