Studies, evidence, reports and guidance

This page provides details on a range of studies and background information relevant to informing planning applications and which may also be of value to other organisations and communities.

This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to growth strategy and spatial strategy.

Government guidance establishes a standardised methodology for calculating the minimum Local Housing Need, based on the latest official Office of National Statistics population and household projections (updated every two years) and affordability ratios of average house prices compared to earnings (updated annually).

The Housing and Economic Growth Options report examines alternative economic growth scenarios for the County’s employment land requirements and the corresponding levels of housing requirements that would be necessary to support the increased population and numbers of households. The Report was prepared to inform the preparation of the Northumberland Local Plan.

The Northumberland green belt review sets out the Council’s approach to assessing how areas of the existing and proposed green belt contribute to green belt purposes, as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The review has been amended to reflect feedback received. The green belt review complements the strategic land review, strategic housing land availability appraisal and sustainability appraisal documents.
This technical paper provides a summary of the Green Belt Review process undertaken and outlines the rationale supporting changes that are proposed to the Green Belt. 
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to economic development and employment land.

The Employment Land Review assessed the demand and supply of land for employment use in the county and made recommendations on which sites to retain as Local Plan allocations and where additional sites were needed. Much of what it recommended has been taken forward in the Northumberland Local Plan. It comprises of the following documents:

The Employment Land and Premises Demand Study reviewed the market demand for land and premises for industrial, office and warehouse development across Northumberland. The recommended changes to the employment land portfolio in the employment land review (2011) were reviewed in relation to the evidence in the report and new recommendations made where appropriate. Many of these been taken forward in the Northumberland Local Plan.

The Employment Sites Schedule (ESS) 2018-19 provides a strategic overview of the amount of developed, and undeveloped, allocated employment land across the county, and the amount of employment land taken up over different time periods. It also includes detailed fact sheets for every allocated employment site, and a fact sheet summary for each Main Town.

The ESS is presented interactively using Microsoft Sway.  All data contained within the Sway can also be made available in downloadable PDF files upon request. 

View the Employment Sites Schedule 2018-19 using Microsoft Sway 

Please note that this ESS replaces the previous ESS 2016-17 (March 2018) and Employment Land Take-up Study 1999-2017 (March 2018). An updated ESS which takes into account changes from 2019-2022, should be available later in 2023.

This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to retail and town centres, which were carried out during the course of preparation of the Northumberland Local Plan.

The information in the studies and their conclusions reflect the position at the time that the studies were prepared. While the town centre health check and ‘bench marking’ reports are dated, some more up-to-date town centre information may be found on the Economy and Regeneration pages.

The Town Centres and Retail Study looks at town centre and retail uses across Northumberland to assess the vitality and viability of the town centres, identify town centre and primary shopping area boundaries, alongside assess where new retail floor space is required. Below are the original and updated studies:

Northumberland Town Centre and Retail Study 2011 (original)

The Council promotes a healthy eating policy in line with Government initiatives to tackle the obesity crisis. As a result, the Local Plan places certain restrictions on new hot food takeaways. Parts 1 (a) and 1 (b) of Policy TCS 6 restrict the development of new hot food takeaways in towns and electoral divisions where there are above average Primary School children overweight or where there is already a proliferation of takeaways.  This paper identifies the geographies affected by these restrictions. 

This section provides the housing studies and evidence reports that inform the planning policies and proposals in the Northumberland Local Plan.

View further information about the Council's wider housing strategies and policies.
The Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) examines the county’s housing market. It identifies the needs and demands for ‘market’ and ‘affordable’ homes, and housing for older and vulnerable people. It helps to inform the Local Plan and Housing Strategy. View information about affordable housing.
Local Housing Needs Assessments, studies and surveys complement the SHMA. They provide local evidence about affordable housing need and the housing mix required in different parts of the county. They support the development and implementation of housing policies in the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans. Other independent studies are submitted in support of planning applications and community-led housing initiatives.  The detailed data and findings in studies that were carried out more than five years ago are increasingly dated. But they still provide some useful information and context.

Disclaimer: While studies not commissioned by Northumberland County Council have been reviewed, this does not mean that all of the findings presented in the final reports are necessarily endorsed by the council. 
The following local housing needs assessments and survey reports have been commissioned by or in partnership with Northumberland County Council:  The following local housing needs assessments and survey reports have been prepared on behalf of parish councils through the neighbourhood planning process:  The following independent local housing needs studies were prepared by community groups as part of community-led housing initiatives:  The following independent local housing needs studies were submitted by applicants and developers in support of planning applications and development projects:

The Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Needs Assessment looks at the needs for sites and accommodation for gypsies and travellers pitches and travelling showpeople plots in Northumberland. 

View further information about Gypsy and Traveller sites in Northumberland.

The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) analyses potential future sources of land for housing. It identifies sites with potential for housing and assesses their suitability for housing. It also considers the likelihood of development coming forward in the future (their availability and achievability).

The SHLAA is not a policy document. It does not determine whether a site should be allocated for housing, or granted planning permission. It identifies the potential supply of housing land over at least the next 15 years. The 5-year land supply analyses those sites that are expected to deliver housing within the next five years.

Northumberland Five-Year Housing Land Supply of Deliverable Sites (October 2023)  Northumberland has an identified five year supply equivalent to 12.4 years (as at 31 March 2023). Or 13.0 years, now that the NPPF no longer requires applying a 5% buffer. As our Local Plan is less than 5 years old, the NPPF no longer requires us to evidence a 5-year supply for the next few years. Our latest Housing Delivery Test result is 277%.

Northumberland Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) (April 2024) The location and summary assessment of all SHLAA sites can be viewed on our digital map.
Brownfield land is that which has been previously developed and occupied by a permanent building or structure. It includes vacant sites that have now been cleared. It can also include land that is currently occupied by existing buildings and structures. 

The Brownfield Land Register outlines how much brownfield land is potentially suitable for delivering housing development within the next 15 years. It is informed by the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and 5-year housing land supply. It is accompanied by a sites map.

There are two parts to the Brownfield Land Register:
  • Part 1 comprises all brownfield sites (of 0.25 hectares or five dwellings or more) assessed to be suitable for residential development. Inclusion on Part 1 of the Register does not mean that planning permission has been granted. Nor does the inclusion of a site on the Register give any additional weight or status if an planning application is made.
  • Part 2 lists those Part 1 sites that have been granted planning Permission in Principle (PiP). There are no such sites currently entered on Part 2 of the Northumberland Register.

The Brownfield Land Register is made available in different formats. An explanatory information sheet is also provided. The sites can be viewed on our Digital Map.
The net additional homes report summarises details of the number of dwellings built in Northumberland each year. It includes the numbers of affordable homes and those built on previously developed ‘brownfield’ land.
Local Plan Policy HOU 4 sets out housing development site allocations. Criterion 2e requires development proposals to take account of the heritage impact assessments for these site allocations.

Local Plan Policy HOU 10 sets primary occupancy restrictions on new housing in some parts of the county. This note lists the parishes to which this currently applies. It will be updated once the Census 2021 parish-level data has been published.

The following technical background papers for housing studies were prepared in support of the Northumberland Local Plan:
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to transport, connectivity and movement.

The Transport Assessment has been prepared to support the Local Plan and to establish the traffic implications of delivering the countywide growth aspirations associated with the proposed residential, employment and minerals extraction Local Plan allocations for the Local Plan period. 
The Transport Assessment quantifies the traffic generation associated with future development and provides an assessment of the impact of the Local Plan sites at several key junctions in various settlements in Northumberland.

This Mitigation Report provides a summary of those junctions that are anticipated to require physical improvements to enable future development growth to be accommodated and explores a range of potential options and their resulting impact. This Mitigation Report should be read in conjunction with the Northumberland Local Plan Transport Assessment, December 2018, and acts as a continuation of that report.
This section provides the landscape studies and evidence reports that formulate the planning policies and proposals in the Northumberland Local Plan.

The Landscape Character Assessment looks at the character of the landscape, how nature has influenced it, what it has looked like historically and what things make it distinctive. The study is divided into two parts.

Part A - Landscape Classification
Part A provides an understanding of the 44 different character types and the 108 landscape character areas. The map and associated descriptions provide a background to understanding landscape and its local distinctiveness, and provide a baseline against which change can be assessed. Below are the list of documents:

Part B - The Changing Landscape
Part B sets out principles for each landscape character type. The principles seek to maintain and enhance the properties most valued in the landscape.
Northumberland Key Land Use Impact Study study looks at the sensitivity of the landscape character areas in Northumberland to a number of key landuses and major changes that may threaten their character. The study is split into four parts, which each looking at separate land-use planning issues currently affecting Northumberland.

Northumberland Key Land Use Impact Study (September 2010)
This section provides the flooding and water environment studies and evidence reports that formulate the planning policies and proposals in the Northumberland Local Plan.

The Level 2 SFRA provides a more detailed of assessment of areas that have previously been identified as potential development locations in the Northumberland Local Plan. View the Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment Report (October 2015).
The Outline Water Cycle Study looks at the capacity of wastewater treatment works and the sewer network to accommodate an increase in waste water from any potential new development, as well as available water resources and flooding. View Northumberland Outline Water Cycle Study Report (May 2012).
In addition to the aforementioned Outline Water Cycle Study, a Detailed Water Cycle Study has been conducted to identify in detail the constraints on planned housing and employment growth and identifies any mitigation required to facilitate development. Below are the documents for the study:
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to minerals.

A Local Aggregates Assessment (LAA) is prepared on an annual basis and its purpose is to assist in planning for a steady and adequate supply of aggregate minerals by assessing future demand and supply of these minerals. The most recent version of the LAA has been updated using sales and reserves data for 2021 and was prepared jointly by Northumberland County Council and Northumberland National Park Authority. Click here to view the Joint LAA for Northumberland (January 2023).

Previous versions of the LAA are provided for information and can be viewed by clicking on the links below:
Environmental Considerations & Mineral Resources Study looks at the environmental considerations that could affect the location of future mineral extraction in Northumberland. View the Environmental Considerations & Mineral Resources Study (November 2011).
The North East Aggregates Working Party is one of a number of similar working parties throughout England and Wales. Membership is drawn from mineral planning authorities, central government and the aggregates industry. It is established to collect data on the sales of aggregate minerals, the reserves of aggregate minerals covered by valid planning permissions and the landbanks of reserves.

Annual Aggregates Monitoring Report
Information on the sales and reserves of aggregate minerals form Northumberland and North East England is collected annually and published in an annual report. The most up-to-date report includes sales and reserves information for 2021. Earlier versions of the monitoring reports can be viewed below: Meeting agendas and minutes
The agendas and minutes from the most recent meetings of the Aggregates Working Party can be viewed by clicking on the links below: Recommended apportionment of national guidelines for aggregates provision
National and regional guidelines for aggregates provision in England are published by central government. To take the national and regional guidelines into account in the preparation of development plans, the guidelines need to be broken down as far as possible to mineral planning authorities’ areas.

Work was conducted by the North East Aggregates Working Party to provide technical advice on how the guideline figure for North East England should be apportioned to the mineral planning authorities. View the Apportionment of North East England Guidelines for Aggregates Provision 2005-2020 Environmental Report.

Environmental Appraisal Report
Consultants were commissioned to undertake an environmental appraisal of aggregate supply scenarios for North East England. View the Environmental Appraisal of Aggregates Supply Scenarios for North East England (February 2006).
This technical paper report provides details of the sites that have been considered as allocations for aggregate minerals in the emerging Local Plan in order to meet the identified needs for these minerals. The technical paper provides background on the need for the allocations, the ‘call for sites’ process and the assessment of the sites put forward for consideration. 
This technical paper report provides details of the approach to the identification of Mineral Safeguarding Areas in the emerging Local Plan.
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to waste management.

Low level radioactive waste can be produced by hospitals, educational establishments, commercial laboratories and manufacturing processes. To understand the quantities of low level radioactive waste generated from the non-nuclear industry in Northumberland and how this waste is managed, a study was commissioned by us in partnership with Durham County Council and the Tyne and Wear Councils. View the Low Level Radioactive Waste Study in the North East of England (August 2013).
Commercial and Industrial Waste Survey
A survey was taken in to understand the quantities of waste generated by businesses in Northumberland, and the report has been published in March 2011. View the North East England Commercial and Industrial Waste Survey Report (March 2011).

Waste Arisings and Management Capacity Study
This study was jointly commissioned by Northumberland, Durham and the five Tyne and Wear Councils. It forecasts waste creation to 2030 for the commercial and industrial hazardous waste streams, and compares these waste forecasts to existing and planned waste management capacity to identify if there is a gap. View the Waste Arisings and Facility Capacity Study Report (July 2012).
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to planning for wind energy.

The Renewable Energy, Low Carbon Energy Generation and Energy Efficiency Study assesses capacity for wind energy, biomass and other renewable energy sources. It splits into three parts:
  • Part A - Energy efficiency and sustainable construction
  • Part B - How the delivery of a low carbon Northumberland can be enabled
  • Part C - How new policies might be set out and delivered.
View the Renewable, Low-Carbon Energy Generation and Energy Efficiency Study (February 2011).
This study was undertaken to help understand the effects of onshore wind farms on tourism. It involves four pieces of research:
  1. A desk-based study of published research that has been published on the impacts of wind farms on tourism in the UK;
  2. An online survey of potential tourists to Northumberland;
  3. An online survey of tourism-related businesses in Northumberland based on the impacts of wind farms on them; and
  4. A focus group with representatives of groups or organisations that are interested in the impacts of wind farms on tourism in Northumberland.
View the Evaluation of the Impacts of Onshore Wind Farms on Tourism (October 2014).
The Landscape and Operational Wind Farms Study was undertaken to understand the landscape, visual and historic environment effects of operational wind farms in Northumberland. The report can be viewed below:
This study provides an assessment of the sensitivity of the Northumberland landscape (outside Northumberland National Park) to wind energy development. The study will be used to help the Council understand whether it is appropriate to identify suitable areas for wind energy development within the emerging Local Plan. View the Assessment of the Sensitivity of the Landscape to Wind Turbine Development Study (January 2018).
This technical paper provides a high level assessment of the extent and distribution of planning and environmental considerations that could affect the potential suitability of areas for wind energy development. It details the context and the approach taken and makes recommendations on the approach to the identification of potentially suitable areas for wind energy development in the Northumberland Local Plan.
This section includes a number of studies and evidence reports that relate to infrastructure.

The Infrastructure Delivery Plan sets out the County Council’s understanding of the investment programmes of key infrastructure providers active in and around the county. It identifies the level of development planned through the Northumberland Local Plan.
Green infrastructure is a term used to describe a network of green spaces and the connections between them. This can have multiple uses, including recreation and wildlife habitat. Northumberland Green Infrastructure Strategy identifies the green infrastructure network in Northumberland and sets out recommendations on how the network and its connections can be maintained, protected and enhanced. View the Northumberland Green Infrastructure Strategy (October 2011).
The South East Northumberland Green Infrastructure Strategy sets out the vision and strategy for green infrastructure provision within southeast Northumberland to protect and improve existing poor quality green and open space, and develop new green infrastructure. View the South East Northumberland Green Infrastructure Strategy (October 2011).
Northumberland Open Space, Sport and Recreation Provision Assessment examines open space, sport and recreational provision within Northumberland. It was subject to updating in 2018. Further evidence relating to open space was also submitted as part of the Local Plan examination process. It therefore should not be relied upon as a comprehensive or up to date assessment. The Council is currently in the process of reviewing its Open Space evidence. 
The Northumberland Playing Pitch Strategy assesses current and future supply and demand for sports pitches within Northumberland. 

Correction notes for Strategy and Action Plan

Please not that on page 81, at paragraph 6.3.4 of the Action Plan and Strategy document, it incorrectly refers to Northumberland Council's Regulation 123 list. This is an erroneous reference. No such list exists, as Northumberland is not currently a Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Authority.

Please also note that on page 84 at paragraph 6.7.2 reference is made 'No more than five contributions may be pooled towards the provision of any single infrastructure project or type of infrastructure'. This was correct at the time of development of this document but changes to regulations since this time mean it is no longer applicable.

The purpose of the Sports Facility Strategy is to provide an action plan for indoor sports facilties in Northumberland and help to ensure that current and future demand for sports and recreation facilities are planned for.
The Northumberland Local Plan and Community Infrastructure Levy Assessment, comprised an initial report and subsequent Addendum reports, prepared during the examination of the Local Plan. For ease of reference, these reports have been combined into a single report. 

Where a viability assessment is submitted to accompany a planning application the assessment should follow the approach as set out in Planning Practice Guidance. The assessment should also be based upon, and refer back to the Local Plan and CIL Viability Assessment, accounting for any site specific issues and, or changes in circumstances since that Assessment.
The support the preparation of the Northumberland Local Plan, the Council was required to independent test the viability of its policies to ensure deliverability. The viability testing included advice on:
  • Appropriate affordable housing quantum and mix.
  • Appropriate levels of other Section 106 policy requirements (such as education contributions, open space provision etc.).
  • Other policy provisions which could impact on scheme viability (such as the potential introduction of the Nationally Described Space Standards, certain Building Regulations standards etc.).
We publish topic-based monitoring reports throughout the year to review our performance, report on our activities and assess the success of current planning policies.

Monitoring reports used to be published on an annual basis. However, we now publish topic based reports as and when they are ready. This means information can be read as soon as it is available and we hope it makes it easier to read and digest. View the current Monitoring and Implementation Framework in Appendix I of the Northumberland Local Plan.
Further information:

If you would like further information on planning policy in Northumberland, please contact the Planning Policy Team on