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Special Protection Area (SPA)

In March 2005, the government designated areas of heathland within the Thames Valley as the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (TBH SPA) under the EC Birds Directive.

The TBH SPA includes areas of heathland across Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, covering 11 different local authorities, including Guildford Borough.

The TBH SPA has been identified as an internationally important habitat for three rare species of bird - the Dartford warbler, woodlark and nightjar.

Within Guildford Borough, there are a number of areas included within the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.

Natural England advises that recreational use of the heaths arising from housing developments up to five kilometres away from a SPA will create disturbance to rare bird populations. As a result, all housing development within five kilometres of a SPA is now subject to stringent tests and impact assessments.

Find out more about the Thames Basin Heaths by visiting the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership website.

TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2017 Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

The TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2017 Supplementary Planning Document has been prepared in consultation with Natural England and facilitates the Council in considering planning applications where these fall within seven kilometres of a SPA. This strategy enables residential development to take place which would otherwise be prevented by the provisions of European legislation relating to the protection of the SPA. It replaces the earlier TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2009-2016 and came into effect on 18 July 2017.

icon TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2017 SPD [5.97MB]

The SPA tariffs are reviewed annually through updates to the Planning Contributions SPD. See the current SPA tariffs on the Planning Contributions Supplementary Planning Document page.

The strategy was the subject of a public consultation between 19 September and 17 October 2016. For more information, see below. The new strategy was adopted by the Executive on 18 July 2017 and took effect from 26 July 2017.

Natural England

Natural England's conservation objectives relating to the SPAs affecting our borough are available from the links below.

As a statutory consultee on planning applications for residential and some commercial development within five kilometres of a SPA, and large residential developments five to seven kilometres from the SPA, Natural England has the right to object to applications which they consider will have a negative impact on a SPA.

We must consult with Natural England when we decide that a new development will not lead to adverse effects on the integrity of the SPA. This is a process called 'Appropriate Assessment'. Natural England gives standing advice for Local Planning Authorities. The advice covers Appropriate Assessments for minor housing applications and minor gypsy and traveller site applications that conform with our SPA strategy.

See icon Natural England's standing advice [305.82KB] .

TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2017 SPD consultation

The draft strategy was the subject of a public consultation for 12 weeks between 19 September and 17 October 2016.

To view the consultation draft strategy, please visit our Consultation page. 

View the icon Consultation Statement for the strategy. [1.65MB]

View the icon Adoption Statement for the strategy. [80.71KB]

The final adopted strategy is available on our planning and building control documents page.

TBH SPA Avoidance Strategy 2017 SPD Equalities Impact Assessment

The Equalities Impact Assessment considers the possible impacts of the strategy on specific groups within the community. Considering equalities issues throughout the preparation of the strategy assists us in avoiding inadvertent negative or discriminatory consequences for particular sections of the community. These specifically include race, gender, disability (physical and mental), religion, sexuality, and/or age, and include people who may be within more than one of these groups.

View the icon Equalities Impact Assessment for the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area Avoidance Strategy 2017 SPD [1.82MB]