Why Councils Require a Site Plan

Why Councils Require a Site Plan Submission

Councils typically require developers, landowners, and the public to submit site plans as part of a “Call for Sites” or similar land availability assessment process. This serves several important functions in the local planning system:

Identifying Potential Development Land

The primary purpose of a site plan submission is to allow councils to take stock of what land is potentially available for future development in their area. By inviting landowners and developers to put forward sites, councils can build a comprehensive database of potential development opportunities. This is crucial for councils to fulfill their obligations under national planning policy to maintain a robust evidence base and a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites. The site plan submissions help councils identify suitable and available land to meet assessed housing and employment needs in their local plans.

Assessing Site Viability and Deliverability

Beyond just identifying potential sites, the site plan process also allows councils to gauge the viability and deliverability of the land that is put forward. Councils will typically assess factors like:

Site ownership and availability
Existing uses and planning status
Physical and environmental constraints
Potential access and infrastructure requirements
Developer interest and likely timescales for delivery

This helps councils understand which sites are genuinely available and realistic for development, versus those that may face significant barriers. It informs their decisions about which sites to allocate in the local plan.

Building a Pipeline of Development Opportunities

The pool of sites submitted through the Call for Sites process forms a key part of the council’s strategic land supply. This provides a pipeline of potential development opportunities that can be considered for inclusion in future local plans and planning decisions. Maintaining this pipeline is essential for councils to demonstrate they have a sufficient and deliverable supply of land to meet their identified needs. It also gives developers and landowners clarity on where the council sees potential for future growth.

Engaging the Local Community

The site plan submission process is also an important way for councils to engage the local community and gather their input. By inviting residents, businesses, and other stakeholders to put forward sites, councils can better understand local priorities, concerns, and development opportunities. This helps ensure the local plan is informed by a wide range of perspectives, rather than just those of developers and landowners. It also gives the community a voice in shaping the future of their area.

Conclusion

In summary, the requirement for site plan submissions is a crucial part of the local planning process. It allows councils to proactively identify potential development land, assess its viability, and build a strategic pipeline of opportunities to support their long-term planning. It also facilitates important community engagement to ensure local plans reflect the needs and aspirations of residents. By maintaining a robust site plan evidence base, councils can fulfill their statutory obligations and make more informed, transparent decisions about the future development of their area.