What is a SHMA?

If you type “what is a SHMA?” into popular Internet search engines, among other things a list of hundreds of local authority web pages will be presented to you, all describing the role that a Strategic Housing Market Assessment study [SHMA] is playing in helping them determine the number of houses they will need to plan to build over the forthcoming years of their local plan, how they have gone about it and what it means for their community.

The best site I found was the “Affordable Housing Guide” web site of Local Government Yorkshire & Humber.  Its a mine of information that deals clearly and logically with an unwieldy topic for the layman.  For an immediate focus on the description and process of creating a SHMA, you can do no better than visit the page in their “Evidence Base” section, “What is a Strategic Housing Market Assessment?”.

Just a word of warning.  You will find reference to “Regional Spatial Strategies” [RSS].  These were part of the ‘top down’ planning processes of the previous government.  An RSS set an annual total of dwellings a Local Planning Authority [LPA] should commit to during its Local Plan period but were abolished by the current government as part of the Localism Act, 2011 in order to pass responsibility for housing policy back to LPAs.

Which brings us back neatly to the Guildford Borough Council SHMA invitation to quote where it describes the process required of the supplier to collect together the data that will determine the levels of house building to be addressed in the Guildford Draft Local Plan.  I’m sure you’ll notice, as I did, that house-builders count as stakeholders in the eyes of Guildford Borough Council planning officers but mere residents like us don’t.  We might get in the way and object to the plans they are hatching.

Happy reading!


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