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Quickly Identify Potential Sites with SHLAA


The National Planning Policy Framework requires local authorities to produce and update a study of sites which have the potential to accommodate residential developments in their areas, and they do this through the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, known more commonly as SHLAA. 


So, what exactly is SHLAA? 🤷

Put simply, SHLAA is an extremely useful tool for property developers. It’s a technical exercise carried out by local authorities to determine the quantity and suitability of potentially available sites, providing them, and property developers, with an indication of land to accommodate housing developments.  

  • It identifies the sites, the constraints, and the likely number of dwellings, determining when the land might be developed for housing.
  • It provides an assessment of the suitability, availability and achievability of potential new housing sites and informs housing and planning policy.
  • It provides Local Authorities and residential developers with a robust indication of housing capacity to inform plan-making.  
  • In most places, SHLAAs are conducted across a Local Planning Authority area. In London, the mayor carries out a city-wide SHLAA to determine borough housing targets in the London Plan
  • It’s not a site allocation exercise and it doesn’t necessarily mean that a site will be developed for housing 


Putting SHLAA data to work 🔎📍

Having access to SHLAA information helps developers to understand which sites have the potential to accommodate residential developments. Through our newest overlay, residential property developers can quickly identify which areas have been earmarked as part of SHLAA – enabling them to effectively assess the sites before progressing.



In most cases, the sites will have been assessed to understand where the most deliverable sites are located - therefore planning is likely to be granted on them. It also indicates that the owner has the willingness to sell the land at some point.   

 A time-saving tool: What would usually take days to trawl through resources and unnecessary data can now be done in a matter of seconds, alongside a full pipeline of projects with Nimbus Maps. Want to learn more about how Nimbus Maps will help you assess potential land and property opportunities? Request a free trial today


Frequently Asked Questions

What are SHLAA sites?

SHLAA sites are areas identified by local authorities in the UK as potentially suitable for housing development. These sites are part of the national planning policy framework and aim to promote sustainable development and meet the country's housing needs.

Why do property professionals (developers or investors) want to find SHLAA sites in the UK?

Property professionals may want to find SHLAA sites in the UK for several reasons. These include gaining insights into areas where housing development is likely to be approved, identifying potential development opportunities, accessing valuable information about local planning policies and infrastructure, and contributing to meeting the demand for housing in areas where it is needed.

How can property developers benefit from developing on SHLAA sites?

Developing on SHLAA sites can benefit property developers by contributing to meeting the demand for housing in areas where it is needed, supporting the local economy, and providing valuable information about local planning policies and infrastructure. It can also provide opportunities to identify potential development projects and make informed decisions about investment.

How are SHLAA sites identified by local authorities?

Local authorities identify SHLAA sites through a process of strategic housing land availability assessment. This involves assessing land availability and suitability for housing development, taking into account factors such as existing infrastructure, local planning policies, and population growth projections.

Are SHLAA sites guaranteed to be approved for housing development?

In short, no. SHLAA sites are not guaranteed to be approved for housing development. While they are identified by local authorities as potentially suitable for development, they still need to go through the planning process and obtain planning permission. Planning permission will depend on various factors, including the site's suitability for development, the impact on the local environment, and community engagement.

Can anyone access information about SHLAA sites in the UK?

Yes, information about SHLAA sites is publicly available. Local authorities are required to publish their SHLAA assessments and lists of sites online, making it accessible to anyone interested in finding out more about potential development opportunities. The only downside to this, is that manually searching for information for a particular site is time-consuming and difficult if you don't know where to look (unless you have Nimbus, of course). 

Can developers propose their own sites for inclusion in SHLAA assessments?

Yes, developers can propose their own sites for inclusion in SHLAA assessments. Local authorities are required to consider all potential development sites, including those proposed by developers, as part of their strategic housing land availability assessments.

Are there any downsides to developing on SHLAA sites?

There can be downsides to developing on SHLAA sites. These include potential opposition from local communities, increased competition from other developers, and additional costs associated with complying with local planning policies and environmental regulations. Additionally, some SHLAA sites may have limitations on the type of development allowed or require significant infrastructure investment to support development.


How to use it in Nimbus

Existing Nimbus users will be able to select the Location Analysis tool in the top right of the Nimbus Maps app, then select SHLAA sites from the Planning Policy dropdown menu. The SHLAA sites will be identified in magenta.     

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