Why should Planning Policy professionals use LUA?

Planning Policy development should be able to utilise the development of software like LUA to its’ advantage. Until now policies on daylight and sunlight access has been at best inconsistent between Local Planning Authorities mainly because it has been deemed as only important in dense urban areas. However, a change has recently occurred that has a direct impact on daylight and sunlight access within buildings.

In 2012, the UK Government issued the Health and Social Care Act which created a new public health role in Local Authorities. The details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/127045/Public-health-role-of-local-authorities-factsheet.pdf.pdf

Local Authorities, especially Planning Policy professionals and their respective elected members are now grappling with how to take this agenda forward. We firmly believe that increasing the standards for daylight and sunlight access for all new development goes a long way in addressing Public Health benefit for the following reasons:

1 – It is accepted that health and wellbeing are linked to daylight and sunlight access and help to prevent Seasonally Adjusted Disorder (SAD)

2 –  Providing good access to solar gains helps to reduce the costs of artifical heating and lighting and therefore directly assists with reducing fuel poverty, especially for the elderly and those on low incomes.

LUA has been developed so that good levels of daylight and sunlight access can be modelled quickly, the outputs are robust and measureable and therefore the process could easily form part of an emergent Public Health Planning Policy within a Local Authority area.

Additionally, energy efficient buildings have long been part of the policy environment however, little measureable emphasis has been placed on assessing the built form, orientation or layout from an energy efficient perspective. Now that LUA exists and the whole process of assessing for daylight and sunlight impact on multiple buildings has become much easier it is now also possible to address energy efficiency in  a similar way as the two are directly linked.

We therefore firmly believe that policy should now begin to be developed that tests the compliance of Master-plans for energy efficient orientation, layout and massing. The benefits of this could be significant in the following ways:

1 – An optimised energy efficient Master-plan (orientation, layout, massing and built form)could potentially reduce the overall energy demand and CO2 emission levels by upto 40% (based upon similar experiences in Germany).

2 – The savings from 1. are theoretically permanent unless someone changes the street layout!

3 – The costs of dealing with “zero carbon” compliance are reduced as the total site wide emissions have been reduced via optimisation.