Frequently Asked Questions   Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments (HELAAs) 

Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessments (HELAAs) Frequently Asked Questions What is a HELAA? A HELAA is an assessment of how much land might be available to accommodate future housing and economic growth in each district, local planning authority area or broader study area. It also sets out the timescale during which potential sites might be able to come forward, looking forward at least 15 years. Land for economic growth includes office, industrial and storage uses that might typically be found on purpose built estates as well as retail, leisure and office uses that would be expected to locate in a city or town centre. It is important to note that including a site in a HELAA does not mean that it is allocated for development or that permission will be granted (see further answer below). Why does a HELAA need to be prepared? Under the National Planning Policy Framework, and using the detailed guidance set out in the Planning Practice Guidance (see‐and‐economic‐land‐
availability‐assessment) each local planning authority must assess its ‘objectively assessed need’ for future housing. Local authorities are required to do a regular assessment of land that potentially might be suitable and available for new homes and businesses in the future. What is the consultation on the HELAA methodology about? The current consultation is about how we will go about preparing HELAAs in Norfolk. The methodology sets out the basic requirements that each planning authority will use, such as the types of sites the HELAAs will include (e.g. sites with planning permission but not started, underused sites and new sites put forward by landowners and developers for possible development), the minimum size and general location of sites as well as the criteria against which sites are assessed. The criteria are split into two broad groups (1) ‘constraints’ which limit the development potential of the site e.g. risk of flooding, contamination, availability of infrastructure etc. and (2) ‘impacts’, which may mean that a site is not suitable for development or mitigation of impacts could be required. What conclusions will the HELAA reach? The HELAA will assess each site against the agreed criteria to come up with a list of potential sites. Some of those criteria (for example if a site is in the functional floodplain) will rule a site out, but others will restrict the development of the site in ways which could potentially be overcome (subject to further investigation). The HELAA will draw a broad conclusion on each site, whether it be for housing or economic use, highlighting issues that need to be addressed. If there are no fundamental difficulties with a site, the HELAA will also look at whether the site can be delivered in an economically viable way and suggest what timeframe the site might come forward in. Does this mean that the sites included in the HELAA are appropriate for allocation and/or that planning permission would be granted for them? The HELAA does not allocate land for development. That is the role of the Local Plan. The assessment does not determine whether a site should be allocated or given planning permission for development. The inclusion of a site in the assessment does not imply or guarantee that it will be allocated, nor that planning permission would be granted should an application be submitted for consideration. What part will the HELAA process play in the preparation of Local Plans? The HELAA will show where potential land is available to accommodate the assessed needs for future development. The HELAA will identify potential issues with sites, giving both the site promoters and the local planning authorities information they need to start a more detailed site assessment to decide whether particular sites should (or should not) be allocated in the Local Plan. Other sites may also be brought to the attention of the local planning authority as part of the Local Plan process. All the sites will be considered to decide which are the most appropriate ones to allocate (or identify) in the Local Plan to meet the future needs for development.