Housing Land Audit (HLA)
Local authorities are required to conduct an annual survey of the housing land supply, the Housing Land Audit, to determine completions within the timeframe and update forecasts of the housing land supply. This, in turn, helps inform land releases within the Local Development Plan process and ongoing development management decisions.
Prior to February 2023, the number of houses which were required to be built in each local authority area was called the Housing Land Requirement and there were two components to this figure, the Housing Supply Target and the Generosity Allowance.
The Housing Supply Target was itself derived from another source, the Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA), a technical document that provided long run estimates of housing need and which served as an evidence base for both the Local Housing Strategy and Local Development Plans, and in order to ensure that the housing supply had the flexibility necessary for the continued delivery of new housing, this figure was increased by 10%, the so-called generosity allowance.
The Housing Land Requirement for West Lothian was originally identified in the Strategic Development Plan for Edinburgh and South East Scotland (SDP) and can be viewed here.
It should be noted however that the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 has since removed the requirement for the preparation of Strategic Development Plans and it is now the case that housing requirements are instead set out in Scotland's 4th National Planning Framework (NPF4) which was approved by the Scottish Parliament in January 2023 and adopted on 13 February 2023.
NPF4 identifies a Minimum All-tenure Housing Land Requirement (MATHLR). This figure represents the minimum number of houses to be provided for within new Local Development Plans. It is to be regarded as the starting point towards identifying the land for housing that will be needed in the future and which Local Development Plan allocations will require to meet. West Lothian's 10-year MATHLR has been confirmed in NPF4 as 9,850 dwellings and is inclusive of an in-built flexibility allowance of 25%.
Notwithstanding these changes, there continues to be a requirement on local planning authorities to prepare an annual Housing Land Audit (HLA) which will assist in monitoring the delivery of housing land.
The HLA is undertaken by the council but with input from the development industry and infrastructure providers.
The process is governed by Planning Advice Note 2/2010: Affordable Housing and Housing Land Audits.
HLAs are the established means for monitoring housing land and have two key functions: to demonstrate the availability of sufficient effective land; and to provide a snapshot of the amount of land available for the construction of housing at any particular time.
To assess a site as being effective, it must be demonstrated that within the five-year period beyond the date of the audit the site can be developed for housing (i.e. residential units can be completed and available for occupation), and will be free of constraints. The following criteria are to be taken into account:
- ownership: the site is in the ownership or control of a party which can be expected to develop it or to release it for development. Where a site is in the ownership of a local authority or other public body, it should be included only where it is part of a programme of land disposal;
- physical: the site, or relevant part of it, is free from constraints related to slope, aspect, flood risk, ground stability or vehicular access which would preclude its development. Where there is a solid commitment to removing the constraints in time to allow development in the period under consideration, or the market is strong enough to fund the remedial work required, the site should be included in the effective land supply;
- contamination: previous use has not resulted in contamination of the site or, if it has, commitments have been made which would allow it to be developed to provide marketable housing;
- deficit funding: any public funding required to make residential development economically viable is committed by the public bodies concerned;
- marketability: the site, or a relevant part of it, can be developed in the period under consideration;
- infrastructure: the site is either free of infrastructure constraints, or any required infrastructure can be provided realistically by the developer or another party to allow development; and
- land use: housing is the sole preferred use of the land in planning terms, or if housing is one of a range of possible uses other factors such as ownership and marketability point to housing being a realistic option.
Housing Land Audits provide a comprehensive and factual assessment of the housing land supply in the West Lothian Council area, detailing completions that took place over the period of a year from 1 April to 31 March of the following year and seeking to programme future housing completions from this supply over a seven year period.
If you have any questions relating to the Housing Land Audit, or just want to provide feedback and comments on our service, please email the Development Planning and Environment team at email@example.com. You can also write to us at Development Planning and Environment, West Lothian Civic Centre, Howden South Road, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 6FF or phone 01506 280000.
This page was last updated: 17 February 2023