Creating an interactive evidence base for the London Borough of Hounslow

23 November, 2020
Overview of land titles in Hounslow

Fresh thinking on the
‘Call for Sites’ process.

Like many local authorities, the London Borough of Hounslow is facing the challenge of finding land for a large number of new homes. The mayor’s new Draft London Plan gives Hounslow a ten-year target for 17,820 homes, with 2,800 of these to be delivered on small sites.

In October, UI was awarded a contract with the London Borough of Hounslow to undertake an innovative approach to the traditional local plan ‘call for sites’. The usual process involves landowners and developers submitting and emailing in PDFs of sites they have an interest in for inclusion within the local plan process. Planning officers then spend months undertaking a sustainability assessment of these sites to assess achievability, suitability, capacity, viability and availability.

The conventional approach would normally lead to around 300-600 sites being submitted in the average local authority. With our innovative approach, we are instead analysing every single potential site across the borough, in Hounslow’s case that’s around 115,000 (or 191x as many sites). Taking this fresh approach will enable Hounslow to consider the maximum number of development sites possible, for its own planning purposes and to meet obligations set out by national and London Plan policies.

UI has also changed the ‘call for sites’ exercise itself. Instead of asking multiple questions about the site itself in terms of capacity and suitability, the exercise will now focus on the availability of the site and its likelihood of being brought forward for development. This will make it less cumbersome and faster for developers to respond to the call, further helping to increase the number of sites submitted. The proposed sites will be automatically scored and ranked using our SiteScore® algorithms with rules defined and agreed between UI and Hounslow planners, aided by the character and context study being undertaken in parallel by leading designers Allies & Morrison.

The results of our analysis of all sites will be combined into a comprehensive sites database for the borough, which will provide better intelligence and insight, both for planning policy and development management processes.


Work in local government?

If your team has got a Call for Sites coming up, then get in touch with us to find out how we might be able to help get it done easier and faster for less.

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Running the numbers...

  • 0Homes to be delivered in Hounslow
  • 0Small sites to identify
  • 0Sites considered

Project Goals

  • Identification of all sites that may be developed over the next 30 years
  • Assessment of potential densities on those development sites
  • Individual site assessments of suitability, availability and achievability
  • Perform portfolio analysis of council assets
  • Development of a web-based comprehensive sites database
  1. Site Collection

    The first step for Hounslow is collecting the sites for assessment, using a range of sources including Land Registry, stakeholder engagement and previous site identification projects within the borough.

  2. Site Assessment - Suitability

    Once these sites have been identified, Urban Intelligence will perform a comprehensive and consistent assessment of each parcel identified. This includes a rigorous test against planning and environmental policy to inform suitability.

  3. Site Assessment - Availability

    The availability of sites will be informed by a programme of stakeholder engagement, using multiple channels to achieve maximum engagement.

  4. Site Assessment - Acheivability

    The final stage of site analysis is understanding whether development on site would be viable. This includes performing a detailed assessment of the top sites to understand build costs, as well as potential sales values to find if sites have the potential to be completed.

  5. Creation of an interactive tool to view sites

    The final step in the project will be to create an interactive application for the council, with detailed information regarding each potential development site in the borough. This will form part of an interactive evidence base that the borough can use for any plan development in the future.

The future of planning?

This project is currently active, and represents a vision of how the government’s ambitions for increased digital utilisation in planning can be realised. We look forward to completing this exciting project and providing further information on its success!

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