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

A:

It is a technical assessment of sites and broad locations that are considered, at this point, to have potential for housing. It also includes information on other sites that have been assessed, but are not considered suitable, available or achievable for housing.

The SHLAA is a background ‘evidence’ document to inform plan-making, but is not a policy statement.

Q: Why has the SHLAA been prepared?

A:

It is a requirement of Government that every Local Planning Authority undertakes a SHLAA. This is set out in Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing (PPS3) and associated SHLAA Practice Guidance.

The Council’s Local Plan would not be supported by Government or the Planning Inspectorate if it had not considered the potential opportunities for housing through a SHLAA. This is because the SHLAA is regarded as a fundamental and critical part of the Local Plan evidence base, providing information that helps in considering development strategy and site options.

Q: What does the SHLAA do?

A:

The SHLAA informs plan-making by doing three things:

  1. It identifies sites that have the potential for new housing
  2. It assesses how many homes they may accommodate
  3. It estimates when these sites, if suitable, are likely to be developed

While the SHLAA indicates housing capacities and timescales, these are estimates of potential and do not represent policy intentions. They will be subject to further examination as part of the plan-making process, if a site is subsequently proposed to be allocated for housing.

Q: What time period does the SHLAA cover?

A:

The SHLAA relates to the period up to 2028.

There is a specific requirement on Local Planning Authorities to identify specific, ‘deliverable’ sites for the first five years of its LDF, from the date of adoption, as well as a need to identify ‘developable’ sites for year 6 – 10 and, if possible, up to year 15. It may alternatively indicate ‘broad locations’ for longer-term development.

Q: Does the SHLAA represent Council policy on future housing sites?

A:

No. It is part of the evidence base for the LDF, but the Council has not made any policy commitment to housing development on sites in the SHLAA.

It will assess these sites further alongside other evidence studies, including consideration of whether there may be other, more suitable uses for sites. It will also need to consider which sites relate best to the overall development strategy for the district and the creation of sustainable communities.

Only then will sites be proposed for development through a Site Allocation Development Plan Document (DPD).

There will be full consultation prior to any decisions on site allocations.

Q: How does the SHLAA relate to Rother’s housing requirement?

A:

Rother’s emerging Core Strategy identifies a need to build at least 5,700 homes over the period 2011-2028. The SHLAA informs the Council of how the requirement could be met, although it is not limited by that requirement.

The housing requirement inevitably means that new greenfield extensions to settlements will need to be identified.

Q: How does the SHLAA inform the Core Strategy?

A:

The Core Strategy will not include specific sites, unless they are strategic locations for major growth. However, the Core Strategy is required to be informed by SHLAA evidence that the preferred settlement strategy will be deliverable. Work on the Core Strategy is ongoing, with further public consultation planned in September this year.

Q: What sites are covered by the SHLAA?

A:

The scope of the SHLAA is determined by Government Guidance (pdf) and by a Methodology developed by the Council in line with that. Sites have been identified from a variety of sources, notably from a “call for sites” from landowners and developers.

The SHLAA only considers sites with potential for six or more dwellings. In line with Government guidance, it is not restricted to sites within existing ‘development boundaries’ but also considers “greenfield” sites beyond current boundaries.

Q: Does a site’s inclusion in the SHLAA mean it can now be developed?

A:

No. Inclusion of a site in the SHLAA that is beyond current development limits would only be allowed if it is subsequently included in a DPD.

The Local Plan 2006 (adopted) will remain the basis for the determination of planning applications until new Local Plan (2011-2028) documents are adopted.

Q: Does it follow that a site in the SHLAA will be definitely developed for housing in the future?

A:

No. The SHLAA provides information as an aid to plan-making and does not allocate land for housing nor make decisions on land use. A positive assessment does indicate that a site may be suitable for housing, but this will be further tested through a statutory Development Plan Document, full public consultation and/or the planning application process.

The SHLAA does not rank sites, and only the most suitable sites that contribute effectively to the creation of sustainable, mixed communities will be allocated. (see also Q5)

Q: What if I disagree with the assessment of a site?

A:

The SHLAA stands as the assessment by Council planning officers, taking account of technical and professional advice received, at the current time and on presently available information.

However, it is an ongoing process and it is intended that the SHLAA will be updated by the time the Core Strategy is finalised. This review will allow any changes, additions or amendments to be made in the light of further information. If you have found an error of fact, please contact the Planning Strategy Section.

Q: Is it still possible to submit a site for consideration?

A:

Yes.  It is still possible to submit sites for consideration.  Please use this form.

Rother Sites Form (pdf)

Q: When will I know if a SHLAA site is proposed for development?

A:

Before any individual sites are proposed for development, the Council will adopt its Core Strategy.

The Core Strategy will include the broad scale of growth for each town and village (and identify ‘strategic sites’ and/or ‘broad locations’ for major growth at Bexhill), but will not determine, or identify, individual sites.

Individual sites will be allocated in a separate ‘Site Allocations Plan’ document, which must be subject to public consultation before any decisions are made.

Initial consultation on this ‘Site Allocations’ document are expected to be held in 2014. Details will be published in due course and will be widely advertised.

Q: Why was I not consulted on a site near me?

A:

The SHLAA is an essentially technical exercise by planning officers with input from key infrastructure providers. At this stage, it essentially provides a background document to guide strategy development. There will be full consultation when sites are considered in more detail (see Q13).

Q: Can I view a hard copy of the SHLAA?

A:

It is available for inspection at the Council’s Community Help Points during normal opening hours, as well being available to download on-line.

Q: What happens now the SHLAA is published?

A:

The Council will continue to refine its Core Strategy with a view to publication for final consultation in September. There will be discussions with stakeholders, notably Parish Councils and service providers, in preparing this.

The SHLAA will also provide a starting point for the further consideration of sites, not only for housing, but also for other uses. (see Q13)

Q: Where can I find out more?

A:

The SHLAA is published on the Homes and Housing  page of the Council’s website. This comprises a Main Report, separate settlement maps showing sites that are considered suitable, available and achievable, and those which are not, and appendices explaining the process and details of individual site assessments. For further information, please contact the Planning Policy team at planning.strategy@rother.gov.uk.