Climate change

Climate change and energy are set to be one of the biggest challenges for planning to address over the next decade.

All local plans should consider how to minimise the impacts of climate change through existing and future development, and set a low carbon agenda through creating sustainable neighbourhoods. Here we share some of the advice relating to climate change given to planners over the past three years of CABE’s LDF workshops.

See CABE’s sustainability work for advice on creating sustainable places and climate change.

Think about climate change spatially

  • Climate change is not a static issue – many of the challenges and opportunities can be considered in terms of individual places.
  • Investigate how a low carbon agenda could be interpreted spatially – would communities be brought together to optimise on energy resources? Respond to the carbon offset fund and refer to work being done by the LSP.
  • Consider undertaking an energy mapping exercise of the borough. Overlay energy opportunities maps with maps of key issues, challenges and areas of change, to identify best where interventions can be made.
  • Consider how growth patterns will influence environmental technology and the role of planning in making environmental change happen. Planning is all-important in making stakeholders understand what needs to happen to address climate change and provide energy, for example, district heating.
  • In policies on sustainable design and construction be careful about unnecessary duplication with other policies. Consider specifying BREEAM and CSH levels, but include sufficient flexibility to ensure they do not conflict with other targets and priorities.

Think about the opportunities, not just the risks

  • Consider what climate risks the future will bring and what opportunities changing energy requirements can create. How will all this affect the strategy?
  • Layer energy opportunities into the spatial strategy and reflect them throughout. Highlight opportunities for growth based on environmental understanding: what is the place’s climate and how is it changing, and where can energy be generated and stimulate growth? Mapping can support the arguments for delivering new housing in certain locations, based on energy opportunities and supply and demand.
  • Think about how environmental work will influence the delivery strategy. For example, balancing environmental targets and affordable housing – what does it do for viability? Be clear about what the place’s priorities are.
  • Consider ‘allowable solutions’ funding. This is targeted at energy, but can be used for community energy infrastructure.

Think about energy generation

  • Build in energy generation – this will give the document an edge. Think about the local authority and neighbourhoods having energy generation schemes for additional income.
  • Talk to communities about energy generation – sell the zero carbon agenda by explaining the savings individuals can make on energy bills.
  • Consider the strategic energy opportunity, building on any work on renewable energy.

Use the countryside as a resource

  • Explore the wider role of the countryside and take a more proactive approach to maximise the benefits from it – use it as a resource.
  • Use climate and energy change work to influence the strategy for the Green Belt and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Discuss how natural resources need to be managed. How rural areas work underpins the quality of the environment that exists. Perhaps aspects of rural land management should be reflected in the core strategy.


  • Work through integrated transport and modal shift – how will this be done in practical terms? This is one of the most direct ways to reduce carbon and address climate change, but be realistic about the level of shift needed to reduce car dependency, and think creatively about ways to deliver it.
  • When thinking about sustainable transport, consider congestion as well as emissions.