SHELAA Methodology Note, April 2022


The Strategic and Economic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) will provide evidence on the potential supply of housing and economic development land across Harborough District. On completion, it will form part of the evidence base to inform future plan preparation.

The SHELAA is being prepared in accordance with the Leicester and Leicestershire Housing Market Area Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment Joint Methodology Paper 2019 and follows the requirements set out in the NPPF and Planning Practice Guidance.  

This note has been issued alongside the SHELAA Technical Consultation to explain the approach taken by officers to assessing SHELAA sites and should be read alongside the Joint Methodology.

While we are inviting comment on the draft assessments, we would emphasise at this stage that the SHELAA is a high-level assessment of land with development potential. Due to the strategic and broad nature of the assessment, the inclusion of a site within any of the timeframes does not guarantee that it will be allocated for development or imply that planning permission will be granted. The SHELAA is not a decision-making document.

The important thing to note at this stage is that we are aware of all the sites that have been put forward for development across the district. The assessment of sites reflects a snapshot in time only. Please do not commission further work at this stage in support of your site. Should we require further information about any site as plan preparation progresses, we will make contact. For this reason, it is important that you let us know as soon as possible if you are no longer the correct contact for the site(s) that you submitted. Please email if this is the case.

In reading the draft site assessments, please note the following:

Sites excluded from the SHELAA (i.e. not assessed)

The following site submissions have been excluded from the assessment:

  • Sites below the size threshold (i.e. housing sites not capable of accommodating 5 or more dwellings, economic sites of less than 0.25ha or not capable of accommodating 500sqm of floorspace);
  • Duplicate sites (where put forward for the same land use);
  • To avoid duplication and double counting site capacity, site variations within a larger site boundary that:  
    • Were submitted by or on behalf of the same site promoter, developer or landowner; or
    • Refer to being part of the larger, overall site

Where this occurs, the smaller sites are referred to in the overall site assessment (if your site has been excluded for this reason and you do not have access to the larger, overall site assessment findings please contact for a copy);

  • Sites subject to a ‘red constraint’ where the constraint covers the whole site or where, once the area of land affected by the red constraint is excluded from the site, the resultant site size is below the size threshold; or
  • Sites with planning permission, with a resolution to grant planning permission, or allocated for development within the development plan (Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plan, Mineral and Waste Plan)

SHELAA Site Reference

This is based on the site ID which was provided at the time of submitting the site and quoted in the confirmation of submission correspondence, with the addition of ‘21/’ to identify the date of the SHELAA (i.e. 21/8001)

Site name

The site name as submitted may have been amended to make it more descriptive, meaningful, or unique.

Site boundary/size

The submitted site boundaries may have been adjusted to reflect features and boundaries on the base mapping layer. Please CHECK your site’s boundary. If it requires further adjustment, please provide a clear map showing any necessary changes. Any adjustments that have been made to the site boundary are reflected in the site area.  

Where a site straddles the administrative boundary of Harborough district, the part of the site outside the district has been excluded from the site area on which the capacity is calculated.

Overall development concept

Development concept as submitted has been adjusted as appropriate based on professional judgement. For example, where a site of only 300 dwellings is promoted as a new settlement/garden village, this would clearly not be viable and would be changed to ‘housing’.

Proposed uses

This is an overview of the main land uses proposed in the site submission. It does not refer to elements of development that the Council would normally expect to be delivered as part of a scheme of the scale proposed (i.e. open space). Where a site is put forward for housing, the details of the proposed housing type are not specified, although full details are available to officers for future reference.  

Red constraints

Any part of the site falling within a ‘red constraint’ has been excluded from the site area on which capacity is based. However, where the submitter has provided substantive evidence that the ‘red constraint’ can be accommodated within the scheme, this has been considered as part of the site assessment.

‘Red constraints’ are set out in the Joint Methodology as:

  • Functional floodplain (Flood Zone 3b)
  • Scheduled Monuments
  • Internationally and Nationally Designated Sites of Biodiversity and Geological Interest (SSSI, SPA)
  • Major Hazardous Facilities

Policy ‘Off’

The SHELAA is ‘policy off’ in nature meaning that officers take account of policy considerations but do not use these to exclude any sites from the SHELAA. Any policy designations are noted (e.g. Local Green Space, Green Wedge or Area of Separation) and may impact on the achievability of the site in the short term.  In such cases, the timeframe for development is adjusted to allow for a potential change in the policy designation through the Local Plan or Neighbourhood Planning process. However, it must be emphasised that policies protecting such designations do not form the basis for excluding sites or making them ‘not currently deliverable’.

Suitability/Availability/Achievability considerations and outcomes 

Suitability: The suitability assessment reflects any physical, environmental or heritage constraints on or near the site, proposed access arrangements including potential impacts on the highway network, and its relationship with existing services and facilities. Depending on the findings, and the prospect of mitigation, a site is categorised as one of the following:

  • Suitable: next 5 years
  • Potentially suitable: 6 – 10 years
  • Not currently suitable: 11-15 years
  • Not suitable: 16+ years


Availability: The availability assessment considers information relating to landowner intentions, developer involvement, potential legal or ownership issues, and operational requirements, to establish when a site may become available for development. Depending on the findings, a site is categorised as one of the following:

  • Available: Next 5 years
  • Potentially available: 6 – 10 years
  • Not currently available: 11 - 15 years
  • Not available: 16+ years


Achievability: The achievability assessment takes account of any market, cost or delivery factors that could impact on a site’s economic viability and prevent it coming forward for development within a particular timeframe. As part of this, any current policy designations affecting a site are noted and where a potential change in policy through the local or neighbourhood planning process would be needed this reflected in the achievability timescale. Depending on the findings, a site is categorised as one of the following:

  • Achievable: next 5 years
  • Potentially achievable: 6 – 10 years
  • Not currently achievable: 11 - 15 years
  • Not achievable: 16+ years


Highway Authority comments

The Highway Authority has been consulted on selected sites only and their high-level comments are reflected in the outcome conclusions where appropriate. The Highway Authority has not considered any submitted Transport or Traffic appraisals/assessment at this stage. Please do not commission further transport evidence in support of your submission as the SHELAA is a high-level assessment only. 

Capacity calculation: Housing sites

The standard calculation for assessing the capacity of submitted sites is based on:

  • Developable site area (excluding any red constraint)
  • Development ratio – as set out in the Joint Methodology
  • Density of 30 dwellings per hectare (dph)

All sites, unless otherwise specified, have been assessed on the assumption that housing density will be 30 dwellings per hectare (dph). The joint methodology notes that sites within and adjacent to the Principal Urban Area and in Selected Centres can be assessed at a density of 40dph. The Council has not adopted this approach and 30dpa has been applied across the district with no allowance made for being adjacent to the PUA or within Market Harborough. This is a broad density assumption for the purposes of this assessment only. The density achieved on individual sites will need to take account of matters set out in the NPPF at paragraph 122. It is accepted that some sites in or adjacent to urban areas may deliver densities above 30dpa while sites in rural settlements may deliver densities below this.

While the capacity of most sites is based on the standard calculation, there are some sites where the capacity stated in the submission is judged to be more realistic. This may be the case where capacity reflects site constraints and evidence has been provided to this effect. There are also some sites where the submitted capacity relating to the site is much less than the submitted site area would yield under the standard capacity calculation.  In such cases, the capacity figure based on the size of the site submitted may be judged to be unrealistic, particularly in rural areas.

Where the submission capacity is used rather than the standard capacity, this is highlighted in the ‘Capacity Notes’ with the ‘Density Applied’ and ‘Development Ratio Applied’ fields left blank.

Capacity calculation: Economic sites

The following standard densities have been applied to calculate the capacity of economic sites:  

  • Office (B1a/b now Use Class E(g)(i)-E(g)(ii)): 3,500sqm/ha
  • Industrial (B1c now Use Class E(g)(iii)/B2): 4,200sqm/ha
  • Non-strategic warehouses (Use Class B8): 4,000sqm/ha
  • Strategic warehouses (Use Class B8 in units>9,000sqm): 3,500sqm/ha

Where a mix of uses has been stated, an average density has been applied based on the specified mix. Where the mix of employment uses and/or the quantum of employment land has not been specified in the submission, an equal split has been assumed and is explained in the ‘Capacity Notes’.


Information provided in the submission alongside the suitability, availability and achievability outcomes is used to estimate the delivery timescale for each site. Four timescales are identified in the assessment as follows:

  • 0-5 years
  • 6-10 years
  • 11-15 years
  • 16+ years

The 16+ timescale has been included to reflect para 22 of the NPPF and the need to look beyond the 15 year timeframe where larger scale development proposals have been submitted. The NPPF explains that while strategic policies should look over a minimum 15 year period from adoption, where larger scale development such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing settlements form part of the strategy for the area, policies should be set within a vision that looks further ahead (at least 30 years) to take account of the likely timescale for delivery. The 16+ timeframe, therefore, acknowledges that some sites may not be deliverable within the new Local Plan period, but they could form part of a longer-term vision for delivering development.  

Not currently developable?

Where a site is subject to a particularly severe constraint or combination of constraints that in our opinion cannot be overcome based on current information, the site is categorised as ‘Not currently developable’. A timeframe for delivery is not identified for such sites.