The development land market continues to be strong, due to high demand and low supply reports the Development Land and Planning Department at Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

We are continuing to receive significant enquiries for residential development sites across the spectrum, from single building plots upward, and there are limited sites available due to a range of circumstances, some of which are set out below.

The demand is from housebuilders/developers, registered providers/housing associations and building contractors trying to find new sites to replenish their pipelines due to market conditions for the sale of new homes and the restrictions that phosphates across our area of coverage has imposed. Registered providers are competing directly with housebuilders due to the availability of Homes England grant funding and the drive to deliver more affordable housing across the South West region, particularly in areas of acute need.

It will be interesting to observe the affects of rising inflation, rising interest rates and lowering disposable income on the housing market and pricing of both new homes and second-hand housing on the sale of sites.

In September 2021, South Somerset District Council (SSDC) published a Five-year Housing Land Supply (5YHLS) 2021-2026 and was able to demonstrate a housing land supply equivalent to 4.7 years. As a result of the recent appeal decision on the proposed residential development of land North of Ansford Hill, Ansford, Castle Cary  - where the Planning Inspector and Natural England accepted a Fallow Land Strategy -  SSDC now accepts that it has a housing land supply equivalent of 4.4 years a situation that is predominantly as a result of phosphates. The council acknowledges that this means that the tilted balance in favour of sustainable development ((Paragraph 11 d) of the National Planning Policy Framework, 20121 (NPPF)) now applies.

Conversely, the latest position statement from Dorset Council (DC), published in May 2022, states that West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland (WDWP) claim to be able demonstrate a housing supply of 4,835.3 dwellings between 2021-2036; therefore demonstrating a housing land supply of 5.85-years.

Natural England has now announced 27no. new catchments covering 42no. local planning authorities nationally who are affected by unfavourable nutrient pollution. This means that existing sites within our area of coverage with unfavourable conditions due to excessive nutrients which require a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) and where nutrient neutrality is being deployed as mitigation are now as follows: Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar; River Axe SAC; Poole Harbour SPA/Ramsar; Chesil and the Fleet SAC/SPA; River Avon SAC and River Camel SAC.

A Written Ministerial Statement has been published that states pledges have been secured from water companies to provide new funding for nature-based ‘strategic solutions’ to tackle nutrient pollution. It also states that legislation to further strengthen requirements to reduce nutrients at source will be explored.

The phosphates issue will inevitably create opportunities for those sites that are not in the catchment areas and can deliver much needed housing to assist local authorities whose housing land supplies will be becoming under increasing pressure - particularly if they do not already have a 5YHLS or are close to not having one.

We have a significant amount of immediate and strategic land coming to the market in the second half of this year. If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to be added, please contact us on 01823 334466.