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The Spiritual Home Of UK Offices Tells Developers To Justify Their New-Build Carbon Emissions


The City of London Corporation will make developers compare the carbon emissions of new buildings versus refurbishments when seeking planning for new schemes, to show the environmental impact of their development proposals.

“This new guidance comes at a key moment for the development industry as the global debate surrounding the carbon impact of refurbishment versus redevelopment continues to heat up,” the City of London Corporation Planning and Transportation Committee Chairman Shravan Joshi said.

“It is in response to a sectorwide need for clarity and leadership in this evolving area of work around sustainability.

“When it is adopted, this planning advice note will provide clarity on what we, as a planning authority, expect from developers behind major Square Mile development.”

The ‘Whole Lifecycle Carbon Optioneering’ guidance aims to place carbon emission considerations front and centre of the planning process when it comes to new buildings as well as give applicants clarity on how to reduce their carbon footprints.

Once the consultation is over, any new guidance will eventually be incorporated into a formal ‘Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document,’ which will address issues such as carbon reduction, energy efficiency and climate resilience in the commercial built environment.

A draft of the wider guidance is expected to be considered by the City Corporation’s Planning and Transportation Committee later in the year.

The initial draft planning advice note was approved today and will be consulted on for six weeks from mid-June.

The main point of interest for developers is the fact that the draft planning advice note includes an expectation that they assess the whole life cycle carbon emission impacts of a scheme at an early stage, such as before designs are finalised, and appoint experienced consultants and enter into discussions with City Corporation planning officers.

There will be an expectation that developers consider the whole life cycle carbon emissions for a range of options, such as minor refurbishment, major refurbishment, extension and new build. That raises the prospect of new-build schemes being turned down because it would be more sustainable to refurbish an existing building, a calculation with which City developers have never previously needed to contend. 

Environmental concerns have been a flashpoint over planning new towers in the City in the past 12 months. Speaking to Bisnow earlier this year the curator in chief of New London Architecture Peter Murray expressed his surprise over the UK government's decision to throw out a tower scheme called the Tulip last November in part due to environmental concerns.

The new City of London guidance will include minor refurbishment, major refurbishment, extension and new builds.

The new guidance aims to put into practice the City’s aims of reaching net-zero by 2040.