Planning for Nature

Development management includes planning for the enhancement and protection of our built, historic and natural environment.

The Mayor’s London Plan, the spatial development strategy for the city, details the need for ‘…planning for nature from the beginning of the development process and taking opportunities for positive gains for nature through the layout, design and materials of development proposals and appropriate biodiversity action plans.’ In order to deliver this, the development needs to be informed early on by the baseline wildlife data that is available. This can then be added to in the future, from detailed surveys where necessary. This baseline wildlife data is what GiGL provides in our Data Search Reports.

Recent research by the Greater London Authority concluded that approximately 18% of planning applications ought to have been informed by a GiGL data search, based on analysis using the criteria set out on the standard application form. Currently, GiGL provides reports to inform approximately 1% of applications made.

The visualisation below demonstrates the percentage of planning applications within each borough that commissioned a data search report from GiGL, to inform their development.

Individual borough stats

Individual information on all of the London boroughs and the data we hold for them can be found on this page.

GiGL data and the planning application process

Most major developments or alterations to land use and buildings require planning permission.  The decision making process for applications is handled by local authorities working within the context of framework set out by national and regional government.

GiGL data can be informative at various points during the process.

  • When drawing up and submitting an application, GiGL data search reports support the appraisal of existing environmental information.  This information can inform necessary surveys and development plans. Environmental consultants, employed to assess and advise developers on environmental impacts of proposals, can access relevant data via the GiGL data search service.
  • Local authority consideration of applications and decision-making can be informed by professional interpretation of available environmental data from GiGL. Most of London’s local authorities are GiGL partners and therefore staff are delivered updates of our datasets and can make requests for tailored information (non-partners can access data as a client).
  • The public are encouraged to play an active part in the planning system at local plan and planning application consultations.  Interested local residents can also access a data search from GiGL for an area that is under planning consideration.
  • At determination of the planning application, best practice ensures delivery of any new environmental data generated as part of the process to the local environmental records centre, to keep records up to date. This practice is in line with CIEEM codes of conduct and can even be enforced via the local planning conditions.

Many of the datasets GiGL manage inform the planning process. Protected and notable species observations and designated sites information provide baseline data to consult as part of local decision making.  These and other datasets can also feed into strategic planning at the landscape level.