How to get your site allocated for development
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For landowners, getting your site allocated for a particular use or type of development is vital, and the best way to do this is by promoting your land through the Local Plan process.
Andrew Boothby, Senior Planning Consultant at Aitchison Raffety, explains how...
National policy requires all local planning authorities in England to have a ‘Local Plan’. This document sets out planning policies for the area which all planning applications are determined against. Importantly, they set out the type of development that is required in the area, how much, and where it should be located. This usually involves identifying specific sites for particular uses, such as housing or employment development.
Local Plans only cover a set period of time (usually 10 to 15 years) and Councils are required to replace them with new up-to-date Plans.
The preparation of a new Local Plan is often a long and complicated process; however it essentially consists of five key stages:-
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1. Collect evidence on the challenges facing the Council to determine the amount of development that will be required
2. Work out how these challenges can be overcome
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3. Identify the solutions in the form of a draft Local Plan
4. Make amendments to the draft Plan based on the comments and suggestions from the public
5. Have the Planning Inspectorate examine the Plan to make sure it has been prepared correctly and can be used to decide planning applications.
At each of these stages, the Council is required to consult local residents, land owners and local businesses for their views. This provides an opportunity to submit evidence and promote your site to the Council.
Additionally, in some cases the Council will issue a specific ‘call for sites’, whereby landowners and developers are encouraged to submit details of their land stating why it is suitable for development.
This process is called land promotion and can be used for all types of sites including former industrial land, employment uses, agricultural land and Green Belt. The aim is to get your site allocated in the new Local Plan, ensuring the new policies support the future development of your site.
Many Local Authorities have a significant shortage of land available for new housing, particularly within existing urban areas. As a result, to meet locally set housing targets some Councils will need to identify land outside of the existing settlement boundaries for such development. It is on these sites that land promotion is particularly vital.
Three key things to consider when promoting a site:-
1. You must demonstrate a clear need for the development:
It is important that you provide evidence to the Council that the development you are proposing is needed. This information could be obtained from the Council’s own evidence; however you could also prepare your own data. For example, you could provide evidence to show that there has been a consistent under delivery of housing in a particular area of the district, or that there is a shortage of employment sites for small to medium sized businesses locally.
2. You need to show why your site is suitable for development:
For sites on the edge of existing settlements and in the Green Belt you will need to demonstrate why your site is a sustainable location for the proposed development. This can include factors such as its accessibility by road and public transport, its relationship with surrounding settlements and their facilities and access to employment opportunities. Likewise, for urban sites which were formerly in employment or industrial use you will sometimes need to demonstrate that there is no longer a demand for the existing use.
3. You need to show why your site is better than the others being considered:
Often there will be more than one potential site for the development that is needed in the particular area. Therefore, you need to provide evidence to show that your site is better than the alternatives. National policy states that Councils can only consider sites which are available, suitable and achievable. Based on the Council’s own evidence it may be possible to argue that your site is better suited to the type of development required than those already identified. Alternatively, you may be able to identify problems with the Council’s preferred sites, to promote your own.
Ultimately, if your representations are successful the new Plan will confirm that the development of your site can take place; subject to an acceptable design and any other mitigating factors that need to be resolved. Given Local Plans usually cover a period of at least 10 to 15 years the opportunities to promote your site are often few and far between, and therefore it is vital to take the opportunity when it arises.
Aitchison Raffety Planning can assist landowners in making representations to the Local Authority with the aim of having that land allocated within the resultant Local Plan Document. If you have a piece of land that you wish to promote for future development, or to find out the state of play with the Local Plan in your Council area and to discuss the best timing of your submission please contact Andrew Boothby on 01442 874087 or via email at email@example.com for further advice.