The Council has reviewed and updated its Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) for 2021. It is important to note that the HELAA is a useful evidence resource for plan making i.e., it does not allocate sites, nor does it grant planning permission. Its principal purpose is to provide evidence at a high level, identifying the best performing sites with potential to consider for further assessment as part of plan making. The HELAA is not intended to be used for development management decisions, as set out in national guidance.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Planning Policy Team Leader presented the report which explained how the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) had been reviewed and updated for 2021. The HELAA’s principal purpose was to provide evidence at a high level, identifying the best performing sites with potential to consider for further assessment as part of plan making and calculating the 5-year housing land supply. It was noted that there was a reduction in deliverable sites and yields coming forward, with issues around proving how deliverable sites were in light on appeal decisions, but that figures through the Neighbourhood Planning Process were improving.
Members (and one non-Committee Member) then took part in a full debate on the item where a number of points were raised including:
· the low response to the call for sites and whether the suggested ‘delivery certificate’ would address the concerns with developer and promoter cooperation and commitment
· the Chair quoted from the Officer report [on page 15 of the Agenda Pack] as an important statement to put the HELAA and subsequent planning applications for projects appearing in it, into context:
‘1.9 In addition, it should be noted that:
· Inclusion of a site in the HELAA does not mean that it will be allocated for development.
· Planning applications on sites identified within the HELAA will continue to be determined on their merits in line with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The HELAA may however form a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.’
· the HELAA and its relation to material considerations in determining planning applications
· Member and resident concerns over a number of sites that appeared on the list
· the need for inclusion of timescales in the HELAA (for example, when sites were put forward, what stage they were at and whether anything had subsequently changed) to give greater context to residents about why sites might have been reassessed as deliverable or otherwise
· what the ‘clear evidence’ consisted of, as mentioned in 1.12 of the Officer’s report [on page 16 of the Agenda Pack] in relation to sites ‘only be[ing] considered deliverable where there is clear evidence that housing completions will begin on site within five years’, and its reliability in delivering completed building
· discussion around the criteria to change a site from ‘undeliverable’ to ‘deliverable’ and determination of yields
· whether there was a process to remove sites from HELAA
The Planning Policy Team Leader provided Members with responses to all points raised during the debate. It was confirmed that:
· the HELAA was for plan making not for decision making, but that at appeals inspectors had previously used the ‘deliverable site’ designation as a material consideration
· ‘clear evidence’ involved Officer judgement on a number of factors determining how realistic delivery timescales were including the status of the site’s planning permission (detailed or outline etc) and any constraints criteria such as site ownership, ransom strips or infrastructure to be delivered
· ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plans being part of the Development Plan so having ... view the full minutes text for item 602