Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC)

Raising awareness of the ecology and fragility of the SAC and the wider National Landscape (YouTube).

Around 20% of Cannock Chase is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Cannock Chase SAC is one of the best areas in the UK for European dry heath land and is the most extensive in the Midlands region.

An Appropriate Assessment has been carried out with regard to the Plan for Stafford Borough.

Several evidence documents were produced as part of the Habitats Regulation Assessment, which consider the impacts of new development on the Cannock Chase SAC:

Further evidence documents have since been completed to monitor and guide the ongoing mitigation works and to insure the evidence base for Appropriate Assessment for any future Local Plan review remains robust. These evidence document are:

The evidence shows that any development which would increase the human population, tourism or visitor use within 15km of the Cannock Chase SAC may have a significant impact on the site. The Council is part of a SAC Partnership, which works together to prevent damage to the SAC. The SAC Partnership's Memorandum of Understanding (pdf 1.8mb). Other members of the Partnership include Natural England, Staffordshire County Council, Cannock Chase District Council, Lichfield District Council, East Staffordshire Borough Council, South Staffordshire District Council, Wolverhampton City Council, Walsall Borough Council, Forestry Commission, and the National Landscape (NL) Partnership.

The Council must ensure that decisions made on planning applications will not have a negative impact on Cannock Chase SAC, in line with Policy N6 of the Plan for Stafford Borough. If there are any potential negative impacts, the Council must either refuse development, or ensure there are appropriate mitigation measures in place.

Applicants seeking planning permission for one or more new dwelling within 15km of Cannock Chase SAC should download and complete the Statement of Willingness Form and provide it to the council along with all other requested documents when submitting their planning application. Submission of this document displays to the council and Natural England the applicants willingness to provided an appropriate financial contribution to mitigate any harm the development will cause to Cannock Chase SAC.

Completion and submission of the Statement of Willingness Form will insure that the application is determined as expediently and possible and will not suffer any delay due to its impact on Cannock Chase SAC.

The Council has produced SBC and Cannock Chase SAC Planning Guidance and further information for developers, providing advice on a number of Frequently Asked Questions. For additional advice on issues not covered within the FAQ document please contact the Strategic Planning and Placemaking Team using the details above.

For all payments agreed/made between 1 April 2024 and 31 March 2025, Stafford Borough Council (SBC) will require a payment of £344.01 for each net new dwelling created through development within 15km of Cannock Chase SAC. This figure will be subject to an annual increase which will apply each 1 April from 2025 onwards, in line with the All Items Group (Item reference CHAW) of the Retail Prices Index published by HM Government Office for National Statistics.

The Guidance provides two alternatives for making payments for Cannock Chase SAC mitigation:

  • A template for a Unilateral Undertaking to undertake to make the payment prior to the commencement of development. This can be found in Appendix 2 of the Guidance.
  • A template for a s111 agreement to make the payment prior to the grant of planning permission. This can be found in Appendix 3 of the Guidance.

It is appreciated that some applicants will favour a Unilateral Undertaking, and others a s111 agreement, depending on their circumstances. However it should be noted that in the case of a Unilateral Undertaking there will also be a charge for the administration costs of checking the title and capacity of the applicant to provide the relevant undertaking, and this will require the Council’s legal input and take more time than a s111 agreement.

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