National Planning Practice Guidance requires plan-making authorities to maintain up to date local plans using robust evidence.
To help inform future plan-making Dacorum, Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford Councils commissioned consultants in 2015 to prepare two interlinked studies, the SHMA (produced by GL Hearn) and the Economic Study (Regeneris, assisted by GL Hearn).
Purpose of the SHMA 2016
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 Economic Study 2016
The Economic Study provides comprehensive economic baseline and growth scenarios for South West Hertfordshire.
The study identifies 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 South West Hertfordshire FEMA covers the same area as the HMA defined in the SHMA, that is 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.
Targets for housing, job growth and floor space
The SHMA does not set housing targets, nor does the Economic Study set targets for job growth or floorspace increase.
Both studies provide important inputs 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 may limit the amount of development which can be accommodated sustainably but will include:
- the supply of land for new development
- the Green Belt
- local infrastructure capacity
- environmental constraints
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.