Briefing note and FAQs - Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment

What is the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA)?

The SHLAA is part of the evidence that informs the preparation of the new Local Plan. It helps us to consider where new homes could be built by assessing land to see whether it is suitable, available and viable to provide new homes.

The SHLAA is an audit of land at a point in time (December 2012). The SHLAA does not decide where new homes will be built and does not grant planning permission. The SHLAA helps to inform the process of deciding how many new homes we may be able to deliver and when, and provides information about possible land that could be used to provide those new homes.

The decisions about how many new homes we build and where, will be taken in the new Local Plan, following specific stages of public consultation.

Why have we prepared a SHLAA?

We want to make informed decisions in our new Local Plan. To do this, we need to have detailed evidence to inform the difficult choices we need to make.

National planning policy says we have to prepare a SHLAA (National Planning Policy Framework, paragraph 159). It also says we need to identify five years worth of deliverable housing land (paragraph 47). Once we know how many new homes we need to build each year, we will use the SHLAA to identify our five-year supply of deliverable housing land.

Our new Local Plan will not pass independent examination if it is not supported by the information in a SHLAA demonstrating where we could provide the new homes we need. All other councils preparing a new Local Plan have to prepare a SHLAA.

How to use the SHLAA

The SHLAA identifies how many new homes could be provided over the next 15 years. The tables in the document show the number of homes by the type of land and by timescales of potential delivery. Information about the land is in appendix B, including an index of sites. Land that has not met the assessment criteria is not included in this SHLAA.

The information in this SHLAA relates to the situation at December 2012. Since December 2012, the situation of some land may have changed. The SHLAA will be updated each year.

We are currently looking to see if land that we own in the developed areas of the borough (urban areas and villages) that is used for garages could be used to provide affordable housing. The land included in this SHLAA represents the position at December 2012, however, in some cases, as further assessments have been carried out to prepare planning applications, we have found that some of the land is not suitable. We will update this in our next SHLAA.

Can land included in the SHLAA only be used for new homes?

The SHLAA identifies land that could be used for housing, however, it may also be suitable for other uses. Some land appears in the SHLAA and in the Employment Land Assessment, and some land is large enough to accommodate a mix of uses, including new homes, shops, and places to work. The Local Plan will decide what uses are appropriate for land, and will be informed by your consultation responses.

Can I make comments on the SHLAA?

The SHLAA is a technical assessment of land, and is not a policy making document. It is therefore not available for consultation. However, if you wish to provide us with an update about the availability of land, we would welcome this information. This will help us to update the study later this year.

How can I make comments about potential development land?

We are preparing a Local Plan Strategy and Sites document. In October 2013, we will be running a public consultation that will give you the opportunity to be involved and comment on potential development site options. This is your opportunity to comment on the development of land and possible uses.

See our Local Plan website for more information.

Where can I find details of the planning applications referenced?

You can search for a planning application on our website, using the reference number provided in the site information sheets in appendix B of the SHLAA.

Viability assessments

We have carried out viability assessments for many of the sites, either by liaising with our SHLAA agents forum, or consultants carrying out an assessment. There are some sites where the agents forum did not have specific comments, as the deliverability of many smaller sites depends on land owner preference and personal finances. Where there is further viability work to be carried out, we will do this when we update the SHLAA each year.

There is more information about the Local Plan on our website at