The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment Summary – Key Findings on Housing Need, March 2014 is now available.
What is a SHMA?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires local planning authorities to use a valid evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area. The NPPF states that housing need should be established by conducting a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA). The NPPF also requires that Local Plans seek to meet objectively assessed development requirements including unmet requirements from neighbouring authorities.
The government has published some strategic housing market assessment practice guidance detailing how to produce a strategic housing market assessment.
The Planning Advisory Service has also published a (reasonably) short Guide to Assessing Housing Need
Housing needs numbers
The SHMA is used to justify the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing for Oxfordshire and for each district within it. According to the SHMA Oxfordshire requires about 100,000 homes by 2031. For the Vale of the White Horse this translates to 20,560 or 1,028 new homes each year. These figures rely heavily on the fact that Science Vale is expected to grow dramatically and generate thousands of new jobs (the plan assumes that 23,000 jobs will be created by 2031).
Government guidance and advice is explicit that the SHMA itself must not apply constraints to the overall assessment of need, such as environmental constraints or issues related to congestion and local infrastructure. This does not mean that these issues are not important. They are very relevant issues in considering how much development can be sustainably accommodated and where new development should be located. These considerations are taken into account in the preparation of the local plan itself, in drawing together various evidence and testing development options as the local plan is prepared.
But, in practice, if your local plan don't allocate enough land for the entire Objectively Assessed Need a planning Inspector will reject the plan.