The Government says it wants to boost housebuilding and the economy and expects local Councils to take a lead role in identifying land to deliver new housing. Making sure there is sufficient housing land of the right type, in the right places and at the right time, will be a real challenge for Councils. This will be all the more challenging as landowners housebuilders, communities and infrastructure agencies will have their own view as to what constitutes an a suitable site and an adequate supply.
So what is the challenge? National planning policy requires Councils to identify and keep an up-to-date a deliverable five year supply of housing land. (National Planning Policy Framework, para 47). In addition, the government expects Councils to include an additional buffer of 5% so that the 5 year supply includes land to accommodate an additional 5% extra homes over the period. Furthermore, where Councils have a record of poor delivery of housing, local planning authorities should increase the buffer to 20% to provide a realistic prospect of achieving the planned supply and to ensure choice and competition in the market.
Not only do Councils have to identify the 5 year land supply, they must also show that the land identified is:
• in a suitable location; and
• achievable and viable (i.e. there should be a realistic prospect that housing will be built within five years).
Without a constant five year supply, local planning policies for the supply of housing will be considered out of date (National Planning Policy Framework, para 49). Therefore, if a planning authority fails to identify a supply, they may be forced to accept housing applications in locations normally considered unsuitable, most likely through the appeals process where the decision is taken out of the Council’s hands and made by a government planning inspector or the Secretary of State. A recent appeal decision makes this clear. In July 2012, the Secretary of State agreed with an Inspector to allow an appeal for 1,000 dwellings on two sites in Tewkesbury at Bishop’s Cleeve, Gloucestershire.
To establish availability, suitability and viability, market demand etc., Councils have to carry out technical assessments (for example, a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMAA), a Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), and Affordable Housing Economic Viability Assessments (AHEVA))
Developers, landowners, communities and infrastructure agencies are all invited to participate in the identification of housing land through consultation on assessments, call for sites*1 and Local Plans.
Professional consultancy support can assist you if:
• you are a landowner or developer and need help with putting forward a site for inclusion in a plan or in response to a ‘call for sites’, or need help with a planning application.
• you are an individual or community and wish to make a case for developing a site, opposing a housing site, or need help making representations on a Local Plan
• you are an agency, voluntary organisation or local planning authority and need help with site appraisals or Local Plan representations or other related support.
*1 ‘A call for sites’ is an consultation which your Local Planning Authority will carry out asking you to help them identify sufficient land to meet their housing and employment requirements over the next fifteen years. (See my blog on the Tameside ‘call for sites’). Submissions require maps and supporting information.