The planning permission process can prove complex and challenging to navigate. But, if you’re a landowner looking to get the most for your asset, getting your site allocated for development is one of the most secure routes available.
By getting your site allocated for development, the local planning authority (LPA) will establish that your land is fit for purpose—and as result, it’s likely that you will encounter less logistical hurdles when bringing your site forward for development.
But as a landowner, how do you make sure your site makes it to the local plan? As trusted land experts, we’re going to tell you right now.
Why do councils allocate sites for development?
As part of the local planning process, LPAs must identify a minimum quota of land for housing development over a 15-year period—this is also the case for employment or commercially-centric sites.
In adherence with the Local Plan, a council will set themselves a total housing requirement within the policy—a decision led by evidence-based documents contained within the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).
Essentially, councils offer guidance on where houses should be built to ensure the most sustainable use of land for the set planning period. In turn, this gives the council a degree of control concerning the determination of planning permissions while reducing the impact of speculative developers.
How do councils decide on housing allocation policy
To get your land allocated for development, it pays to understand how local authorities choose sites for development.
The first step in producing an emerging local plan is deciding on how to distribute housing growth across the district—this is known as forming the ‘spatial strategy’ and there are many ways the council approach these activities:
- Focusing growth on the largest settlements in the district
- Exploring new new settlements and sustainable urban extensions
- Dispersing growth by placing every settlement into a hierarchy for sustainable development
The distribution of growth is mostly affected by constraints. For example, some settlements may not be able to accommodate growth due to a flood risk or because of a surrounding greenbelt designation.
Sometimes councils are so constrained, they have to think outside of the box to identify allocation numbers. For instance, Birmingham City Council is currently asking neighbouring districts, including Solihull, Warwick, and Bromsgrove to take some of their numbers. This initiative is required as a result of the duty to cooperate.
Once the council settles the general housing allocation numbers, the finer details are worked out through a process known as ‘Call For Sites’—an initiative where landowners can submit their site for consideration.
Getting your land considered for allocation
LPAs decide on land for development based on the criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):
- Suitability: This mainly relates to site characteristics and constraints. For instance, does the site relate well to the settlement? Is the site at risk of flooding? Will developing the site have an unacceptable impact on heritage assets/highway network, etc.
- Achievability: This criteria focuses more on technical matters such as land contamination, drainage, and topography.
- Availability: This is based on whether a landowner is willing to release the land for development. The involvement of a strategic land promoter is a key part of satisfying this test as it signals intent.
By understanding these three essential decision factors, you can gauge whether your land is potentially viable and eligible for local housing development.
If you feel this is the case, you should keep up to date with your LPA to see when work starts on a new plan, and when consultations are running, so you can have your say in the process. LPAs often produce a Local Development Scheme (LDS) where they state what planning policy documents the council intends to produce and the timescale for their preparation.
Call For Sites is relatively easy to navigate. To submit your land for consideration, all you have to do is provide your contact details and a map detailing the location of your asset. But, it is worth noting that if the LPA’s emerging plan is too far down the line when you submit your details, it may not be considered for allocation.
An emerging local plan does have to go through several processes before it’s officially adopted—so you can have your say at multiple points during the process.
In some cases, landowners get the opportunity to submit evidence and promote the site through these consultations. You can do this by demonstrating:
- That your site is needed to meet local housing requirements
- The reasons why your site is suitable for such developments
- Why your site is better than the other sites being considered for allocation
When you’ve stated your case and submitted the site for consideration, it will be subject to a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, which is ‘a technical exercise to determine the quantity and suitability of land potentially available for housing development.’
The time from submission to discovering whether you’ve been successful varies depending on when the official housing plan is finally adopted (after a number of drafts, processes, and stages).
It’s worth noting that your plan or submission could be deleted or denied at any step of the process—so be aware.
How Montague Land can help
If you’re a landowner looking to submit your site for allocation, we can help. With 15 years of collective land expertise, we offer invaluable planning & development consultancy, offer a full Call For Sites submission and management process, and write up professional representations to maximise your chances of land allocation success.
Interested? Contact us and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process. We look forward to working with you.