Site Assessments

Strategic Land Availability Assessment (SLAA) (2012)

A SLAA is a way of assessing land to see if it would be suitable for housing, employment and retail development in the future. It is the initial stage of the Plan making process. It is a factual assessment of each site based on Government guidance and best practice examples from other Local Authorities.

The Council must plan to meet the needs of the District until 2031. Among many other things this means finding where to put development in the future, this has to be balanced against protecting our green belt, heritage and natural resources. The Plan has to be based on local evidence and plan making has to follow the process set out below. Evidence gathering and documents such as the SLAA are the very initial stage.

There is a single assessment sheet for all sites looking at constraints to development such as green belt, wildlife designations, listed buildings, conservation areas and distance to facilities and transport. Each constraint will be allocated a red, amber or green rating. The sites will then be ranked according to those most and least constrained using a traffic light system. Later in the Plan process the Council will use this information alongside the views of the wider community to help guide where housing growth would be most appropriate.  To be thorough the Council is looking across the whole district and all land will be looked at. This does not mean all sites are suitable for housing.

Epping Forest District has an estimated present population of 124,700. By 2031 the current population projections estimate the District will have 141,200 people. These additional 16,500 people are going to need homes and the Council has a duty to make provision for them. 

What about jobs, traffic, parking, schools, health and infrastructure already under strain?  These will all be taken into consideration when setting out options for growth. There are also opportunities to improve existing problems using growth as this may be able to provide new infrastructure that benefits the wider community.

What happens if we don’t carry out a land review and designate land?  If the Council did not designate land for homes the Council will reach a point where a 5 year housing supply cannot be demonstrated. Were this to happen housing developers would have a strong argument to permit any planning application for new houses, regardless of where it is and the wider community would have a very limited input into overall growth. Therefore, in order to protect more sensitive sites, all sites must be reviewed and ultimately some land must be designated in close consultation with the community in the District.

Green Belt Review Stage 1 report & parcel assessments (2015)

The purpose of the Stage 1 study is to undertake a high level review of Green Belt land across the District to identify the contribution of the Green Belt towards national Green Belt purposes as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NFPP). 


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