Housing Land Audit (HLA)

Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) requires planning authorities to actively manage the housing land supply in their area and specifically requires that a five-year ongoing effective land supply is maintained to meet the identified housing land requirements identified in the Local Development Plan.

The number of houses which are required to be built in each local authority area is called the 'Housing Land Requirement'. It is identified in the Strategic Development Plan (SDP), and there are two components to this figure - the 'Housing Supply Target' and the 'Generosity Allowance'.  

The Housing Supply Target is derived from another source, the 'Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) which is a technical document that aims to give long run estimates of housing need, and provides an evidence base for both the Local Housing Strategy and Local Development Plans, and to ensure that the housing supply has the flexibility necessary for the continued delivery of new housing, this figure is increased by 10%, the so called generosity allowance.

The West Lothian LDP Housing Land Requirement can be viewed by opening the link below.

Planning authorities are expected to carry out regular monitoring of housing completions and the progress of sites through the planning process and this is achieved in West Lothian through the preparation of an annual Housing Land Audit (HLA). 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 to meet the requirement for a continuous five-year supply; 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 wlldp@westlothian.gov.uk. 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.

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