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Evidence base for the Single Local Plan

Green Belt review: Stage 1

We received the report on the first stage of the Green Belt review.

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This report has been produced by consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM). The work, commissioned jointly with St Albans City and District Council and Welwyn Hatfield Council, involves a comprehensive assessment of all Green Belt land across the three planning authorities to identify how it meets national Green Belt purposes. These Green Belt purposes are set out by central Government in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and are as follows:
  • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

SKM’s report does not make any recommendations for further building in Dacorum, above what is already planned through Dacorum’s adopted Core Strategy.

Green Belt review: Stage 2

Consultants Arup have carried out the second stage of the Green Belt Review and Landscape Appraisal. This review considers further those parts of the Green Belt identified in the Stage 1 study as “contributing least” to the national Green Belt purposes, together with other land surrounding the main settlements in the borough. The Stage 2 Green Belt Review and Landscape Appraisal, together with the Settlement Hierarchy Study (which is currently being prepared), and other information on infrastructure, will help inform decisions about the most appropriate locations for future planned growth in the borough.  This will allow us to make a comprehensive assessment of constraints and opportunities for development, in the same way that we have assessed local housing and jobs needs via the joint South West Hertfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and Economic Study (see below for further information).

We will seek feedback on options for future growth as part of our new Local Plan, with Issues and Options consultation planned for late summer 2017.

South West Hertfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and Economic Study

National planning guidance requires plan-making authorities to maintain up-to-date local plans using robust evidence. In 2015, to help inform future plan making, Dacorum, Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford councils commissioned consultants to prepare two interlinked studies - the SHMA (produced by GL Hearn) and the Economic Study (Regeneris, assisted by GL Hearn).

The purpose of the SHMA is to assess future development needs for housing (both market and affordable) across the relevant housing market area (HMA). Based on the evidence, the South West Hertfordshire HMA is defined as covering the four commissioning authorities, plus St Albans District.

The SHMA considers housing need arising over the 2013-2036 period, to inform local plans. It considers the need for different types of housing and the housing needs of different groups within local communities.

The key aim of the Economic Study is to identify the scale and characteristics of employment growth that the functional economic market area (FEMA) might plan for over the 2013-2036 period, and the requirements for employment land and floorspace that this entails. In light of the evidence, the SW Hertfordshire FEMA covers the same area as the HMA defined in the SHMA (the commissioning authorities and St Albans).

The Economic Study provides a high level review of some existing employment areas and potential future sites. It also considers whether there is likely to be sufficient land supply to meet the needs of the South West Hertfordshire economy.

Because it is so important to understand the future need for homes and jobs, the studies have been subject to extensive consultation with technical stakeholders. This has included a workshop, for which a separate report has been published.

The SHMA does not set housing targets, nor does the Economic Study set targets for job growth or floorspace increase. Both studies provide important input into the setting of these targets. However, the actual targets will be set by each local authority in future local plans. When setting these targets, the authorities will take account of the SHMA and Economic Study and a range of other factors. These factors will include the supply of land for new development, the Green Belt, local infrastructure capacity and environmental constraints. These factors may limit the amount of sustainable development.

The targets included in local plans may also be affected by the outcome of discussions under the duty to co-operate between the commissioning authorities and neighbouring and nearby authorities. 

Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2015 (SHLAA)

We are required to prepare a SHLAA for our area to establish realistic assumptions about future housing supply and in order to inform the process of allocating sites in its Local Plan.

This study has been prepared by AECOM and HDH Planning and Development Ltd. It has now completed a full update of our 2008 SHLAA. The 2016 SHLAA provides an up-to-date assessment of land supply in the Borough as at 1 April 2015 for the period up to 2036. This information, alongside other technical studies, will help inform decisions on allocations in the Single Local Plan.

The SHLAA is a high level assessment of potential housing opportunities in the Borough. The acceptance of sites in the SHLAA is not an indication that they will be developed or that planning permission will be granted. It will be the role of the Single Local Plan to determine the level of future growth and which sites are to be allocated to meet such requirements.

Sites will be regularly reviewed as part of the monitoring of housing supply through the annual Authority Monitoring Report (AMR).

Other

Other technical work to inform the early partial review has been commissioned and further information will be added to this page when available.