Viability Assessments for the Replacement Local Development Plan (LDP)

Viability is a key consideration which will inform whether land will be successfully included in the Replacement LDP.  Planning Policy Wales (PPW) requires that a viability assessment be provided for Candidate Sites to demonstrate whether delivery of the site is viable or not.

Failure to submit a viability assessment may result in a proposed site not being included in the deposit LDP where development is proposed.  However, if the proposal pertains to the protection of land a viability assessment will not be relevant.

It is recognised that certainty on the deliverability of a site may not always be definitive until more detailed viability information is known as the plan progresses.

The Council may therefore request further information proportionate to the nature and scale of the development proposed, where necessary, to enable the site to be assessed in detail as to its suitability for allocation in the deposit LDP.

Stages of Viability Assessment

There are three stages of viability assessments for a replacement LDP:

Stage 1: Initial Site Viability Assessment (Candidate Site Stage)

The initial viability assessment should set out in a proportionate manner whether the site is viable taking into account all the infrastructure needs for the site. The Council is interested in whether the proposed site is viable satisfying broad parameters with sufficient financial headroom to accommodate all of the LDP policy requirements.  Further site-specific assessment, considering the proposed development, against the replacement LDP policies will be undertaken after the Preferred Strategy Stage. 

Stage 2: High Level Plan Wide Viability Assessment (Preferred Strategy – Deposit Stage)

Information provided at Stage 1 will inform a plan wide high-level viability assessment.  This assessment will be undertaken to inform policy development (e.g. affordable housing thresholds, etc.).

Stage 3: Site Specific Viability Assessment (Preferred Strategy – Deposit Stage)

Site specific assessments will be required for sites that the Council are looking to designate within the LDP.  The Council will inform site proposers and ask them for such an assessment.  This process is to ensure that sites which progress to LDP allocation can meet new policy requirements and remain viable and deliverable. There will be a charge at this stage for access to the viability model and staff time for analysis of this information.

Development Viability Model (DVM)

The Council has worked in partnership with other Councils across the region, alongside Town Planning and Development consultants Burrows-Hutchinson Ltd, to establish the Development Viability Model (DVM) assessment tool. The DVM has been created as a comprehensive, user-friendly model that can be used by site proposers and decision makers for the purpose of assessing the financial viability of a development proposal. 

It is important to note that it is the intention of the Council to use this model for all viability assessments related to the replacement LDP, as part of both the Candidate Site and Preferred Strategy - Deposit Stages.  Therefore, we would encourage site proposers to use this model to ensure consistency.  

The DVM is a 'site-specific' appraisal tool that has been produced to work with Microsoft Excel for Office 365, running on Microsoft Windows and as further detailed within the accompanying User Guide (see below). 

Each copy of the model that is issued by the Council will be 'locked' to relate to a specific development site.  The same copy of the model can, however, be re-used to assess more than one proposed scenario for development of that specific site.

A detailed User Guide (or instruction manual) has been produced to describe how the DVM works along with a User Guide Addendum to reflect the latest version of the DVM, and to set out the information that the user is required to input in the relevant cells.

Each copy of the DVM also incorporates a ‘Quick Guide’, which is aimed at those undertaking an assessment of a purely residential development site not significantly in excess of 5 acres (2 Hectares).  Users are also advised that ‘Help Notes’ are built into the model, embedded within the worksheets themselves, which remind the user what to do on each sheet.

Also provided below are links to some 'how to' videos on the use of the model.  These are provided as another means of helping the user understand how the DVM works in a step by step guide.

There is no fee for the use of the DVM at the initial Call for Candidate Sites.  It is proposed that a fee for the use of the model will only be sought at Stage 3 for those sites where the Council requests such information.

A copy of the DVM can be obtained, and for any queries about the DVM generally, by contacting the Council’s Planning Policy Team on [email protected].

1. Introduction

2. Residential Overview

3. Residential Elements

4. Costs

5. Appraisal and Cashflow