The new Air Quality Positive Guidance - what does it mean?

The London Plan 2021 Spatial Development Strategy for Greater London, strives to improve air quality in the capital by introducing a new requirement for larger developments to be Air Quality Positive.

We previously wrote about the draft Air Quality Positive Guidance which was released for Consultation in November 2021, and set out what an Air Quality Positive Statement is.

With the final Air Quality Positive guidance released in February, Kathryn Barker, Principal Air Quality Consultant, recaps what an Air Quality Positive Statement is, and how developers can ensure that their developments are Air Quality Positive.

What is an Air Quality Positive Statement and when is it required?

An Air Quality Positive Statement is required for masterplans and development briefs for large-scale development proposals, subject to Environmental Impact Assessments. Air Quality Positive Statements set out how benefits to local air quality have been considered in the design of a scheme, where the evidence for this is and how these measures can be secured.

As the statement needs to summarise the air quality considerations undertaken, it's important to get an air quality consultant involved in your scheme during the design stage. Air quality consultants can advise on ways to reduce both the future occupants’ exposure to poor air quality, and the development’s impact on air quality.  

How can you ensure a development is Air Quality Positive?

Developers and their project team should consider air quality throughout the design of the project and think about what can be done to improve air quality in four key areas:

Better Design and Reducing Exposure
•	Can more sensitive land uses be placed in less polluted parts of the site? 
•	Is the location of any green infrastructure appropriate? Poorly placed green infrastructure can in fact worsen air quality.
•	Will the building design help aid dispersion or will it trap pollutants?
Reducing Building Emissions
•	Can a zero or low emission energy system be installed?
•	If not, where should the point of emissions be located to avoid exposing people to harmful pollutants?
•	Can the development be connected to an existing heat network? Or will the development generate any excess heat that can be used in the surrounding areas beyond the site boundary?
Reducing Transport Emissions
•	Can the amount of cycle parking go beyond the London Plan Policy?
•	Can road layouts be altered to give pedestrians and cyclists priority?
•	Are cargo cycles facilities and micro-consolidation services feasible for the site?
Innovation and futureproofing
•	Are there any innovative approaches or technologies that can be implemented to improve air quality for occupants or surrounding land users?
•	Can the scheme be designed to be flexible e.g. built to allow easy connection to a future district heating network?
•	Where parking is provided, can provision be made for extra electric vehicle charging to allow for future demand?

How can we help?

The list of questions above are just a starting point to drive the discussion forward. There are many more exciting ways that a development could help improve air quality.

The key to identifying new and innovative ways to improve air quality is through collaboration with other members of the project team, such as transport consultants, planners, architects, EIA coordinators, energy and sustainability experts. The aim should be to ensure that a development will not only avoid worsening air quality, but it will also help to improve it.

Over the last year we have prepared Air Quality Positive statements for residential developments and a data centre using the draft guidance. We are excited to use this experience to collaborate with project teams to help advise developers so that developments can have a positive impact on air quality.  

For more information on the guidance or to speak with an RPS expert, please contact Kathryn Barker.

Related services

Load more services »

Get in touch

Your contact information:

All fields are mandatory *

Get in touch

Your contact information:

All fields are mandatory *