ORS has extensive experience of preparing needs assessments to inform Local Plans that are fully comply with the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework and Planning Practice Guidance. Through consistently taking an evidence-led approach, ORS provides robust and credible assessments based on methods that have routinely been endorsed by planning inspectors.
ORS are sector leaders in producing Local Housing Needs Assessments (LHNA) and the housing elements of Housing and Economic Needs Development Assessments (HEDNA).
Our methodologies have developed over a considerable period. We have completed assessments under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for over a hundred local planning authorities. Following our initial studies, several clients have invited us to work in partnership with them on long-term programmes of work.
Our assessments provide robust evidence that accords with the NPPF test of soundness and conforms with Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). The analysis is clear and transparent, with a well-established and tested methodology that uses the most up-to-date information. We determine Local Housing Need (LHN) using the Government’s standard method, but that figure is always subject to scrutiny and never accepted uncritically. Any recommendations for a higher or lower figure are always evidence-based and fully justified.
Our approach to assessing affordable housing need and housing for different groups in the community ensures consistency with the overall housing need. We use a wide range of secondary data sources to provide robust and credible evidence for the full planning period. Our analysis also considers how key housing market trends and drivers will impact on housing affordability and the housing mix for future years.
We have successfully defended our approach and assumptions, and evidence from our work has routinely been endorsed by Local Plan Inspectors. The team has also supported local authorities who run into difficulties with their housing evidence through the Local Plan process, being appointed at short-notice to replace unsatisfactory work after Examinations have been adjourned.
We have also defended our work at numerous planning appeals. We have never had an Inspector prefer the evidence of an appellant over the evidence we have presented on five-year housing land supply.
ORS has extensive experience of critically reviewing population trends and developing robust household, population and workforce projections. Our demographic modelling has routinely withstood detailed scrutiny through the planning process.
The team has an in-depth knowledge of the wide range of published data sources. We understand the chronology of official estimates, and the way in which methods have evolved over time. By comparing current data with previous releases we can demonstrate the impact of such changes. We also triangulate estimates and trends against other data sources to identify possible anomalies. On this basis we show the extent to which official population estimates can be relied upon in specific local areas.
ORS also has extensive experience of developing independent demographic projections. Through working with the detailed modelling data from the official population and household projections, we can sensitivity test assumptions and develop alternative scenarios. Our sophisticated modelling provides a full range of detailed outputs on a year-by-year basis for the whole projection period:
Our demographic expertise provides the foundation for our Local Housing Needs Assessments (LHNA). However, a wide range of evidence for planning relies on robust population and household projections.
ORS has worked with many clients to establish future demand for pupil places and the need for healthcare services. We have also produced data to inform transport, retail and leisure assessments, and assessments of the need for open space, sport and recreation facilities.
We also have experience of producing population and household projections for small areas. This has often been to help inform neighbourhood planning.
Establishing a clear understanding of local housing affordability is critical for any housing market analysis. Housing affordability analysis forms a key part of our Local Housing Needs Assessments (LHNA) but can also be undertaken separately to complement existing evidence or provide more up-to-date information.
Within the overall need for affordable homes identified, housing affordability analysis considers the mix of different affordable housing products that would be appropriate based on the mix of households needing affordable housing.
To profile affordability, we analyse local rents and house prices to establish the cost of different housing products. These costs are then aligned with local incomes for different types of households to understand what options are affordable. This enables us to effectively model the affordability of various housing options at different costs, and identify what housing mix would be most appropriate to meet local need.
Our findings present the affordable housing need as a share of the overall housing need. We separately identify the need for rented affordable housing and products designed to help households into homeownership, including the First Homes scheme. Within this broader framework, we can also consider the potential role of the Private Rented Sector and Build-to-Rent.
Natural England has issued advice to help ensure that new developments do not harm internationally protected Habitats Sites. This advice comes with tools and guidance to help demonstrate “Nutrient Neutrality”.
The Nutrient Neutrality tools and advice relate to all types of development that result in a net increase in population served by a wastewater system, including new homes and other accommodation. These tools set out the baseline assumption taken by Natural England that each new home will result in an extra 2.4 persons resident in the area.
ORS has worked with clients in a range of different local areas to consider the weight that can be placed on this key assumption in the context of different local circumstances, undertaking evidence-based reviews of the relationship between local population growth and provision of new homes.
Analysis of the population data shows that a baseline of new housing provision will normally be needed to accommodate population changes in the local area resulting from natural growth and smaller household sizes; but any further housing provision enables population to migrate, resulting in extra persons resident in the area. As a consequence, the relationship between population growth and the provision of new homes is non-linear, and can be sensitive to the overall rate of delivery.
Based on our demographic expertise, the ORS team can provide the evidence that is needed to help assess nutrients impacts arising from new developments through establishing robust and reliable population growth assumptions that are relevant to individual local areas.
ORS is the largest provider of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAAs) in the UK. We have completed Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS) and National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) compliant studies for over 150 local authorities in England and Wales since the PPTS was revised in 2015. Their primary purpose is to inform the preparation and implementation of Local Plan Policies and the provision of Traveller pitches and plots. However, they can also support Development Management activities.
GTAAs prepared by ORS seek to understand the accommodation needs of the Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople population. As well as identifying current and future permanent accommodation needs, our assessments also identify any need for transit provision.
Our GTAAs provide a robust and credible evidence base. We use a combination of desk-based research, stakeholder interviews and interviews with members of the Travelling Community. We use a robust and established methodology that has responded to changes in Government Policy and Guidance, and the outcomes of Local Plan Examinations and Planning Appeals.
ORS has worked with numerous Local Planning Authorities across the UK to prepare Pitch Delivery Assessments (PDAs) that help to establish the extent to which the need for additional Traveller pitches and plots could be accommodated within or adjacent to existing sites and yards.
Working in partnership with local authority officers, the ORS team reviews the information available for each individual site, and considers this in the context of national and local planning policies. Where necessary, additional information can be collected through site visits undertaken by our team of field-based researchers.
Our analysis provides a detailed assessment on a site-by-site basis. This forms a key part of the evidence base used to ensure that Local Plan allocations are properly informed, and that Inspectors have the information that they need at Local Plan Examinations.