Improving urban planning’s contribution to River Basin Management Plan delivery


The planning and development process offers an opportunity to deliver EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives and to contribute towards the improvement of urban waterbodies across the North West River Basin District (NWRBD).  However, in many cases these opportunities are not taken during the development process.  Developments take place, but WFD and River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) objectives are not achieved as fully as possible, and waterbodies often do not improve.  Instead, there is a general lack of ambition towards the delivery of water quality improvements and the status quo prevails.

Throughout the River Basin District, opportunities for environmental improvements as part of large and small developments are being missed. For example, opportunities to improve the morphology of waterbodies and to address physical modifications and water quality challenges are not taken. The contributions that greening cities and returning degraded land back to health can make to achieving WFD objectives are also not widely recognised by planners or developers.

In some cases, WFD mitigation measures are overlooked and at worse, more damage to the water environment is caused by a development.  In other cases, there is not enough time, or the necessary knowledge and skills, to consider WFD objectives during the planning and development process.

National policies supporting the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, including Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG), Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) , and Green Infrastructure Standards, will provide new ways to deliver WFD objectives through urban planning. There is now an opportunity to maximise the translation of these new policies into WFD outcomes.

What we are doing:

We aim to build a greater understanding of the barriers to the delivery of RBMP objectives and produce a resource to aid greater WFD delivery through the planning and development process.

This will involve:

The commission of a consultant to engage with local authority planners to understand and explore the existing barriers and blockages to RBMP delivery through the planning and development process.

We will also commission a consultant to produce a resource or tool that can be used by local authority planning officers and others to maximise the delivery of RBMP objectives and the aims of the WFD more widely as part of broader place-making and environmental net gain approaches that can be delivered through the development process.

Hosting bespoke seminars, training sessions and events to promote the resource and prompt a greater contribution to the delivery of RBMP objectives by the local authority planning and development sectors across the NWRBD.

Who else is involved?

Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Environment Agency, Natural England and local authorities within Greater Manchester.

Project location:

Northwest River Basin District, with a focus on Greater Manchester

Latest update:

Report on the barriers to delivery of Water Framework Directive River Basin Management Plan objectives through the planning process.