Strategic Planning and Research Unit

Strategic Planning and Research Unit

The Strategic Planning Research Unit (SPRU) is a dedicated team of economic specialists, statisticians and planners providing independent advice focused upon providing clients with a range of services to support the promotion of strategic development as well as supporting the work of DLP Planning.


Housing Strategy

SPRU takes a rigorous analytical approach to the Objectively Assessed Need for housing and to land supply assessment, often involving a forensic examination of the actual availability of sites as well as a review of the need on which the assessment is based. Robust demonstration of need and any shortfall in supply can often be the critical determinant in the success of an application or appeal. SPRU has extensive experience in influencing the outcome of local plan examinations and appeals throughout the UK.

Economic Assessment Modelling

SPRU can build a comprehensive analysis of the economic impacts and benefits of any given development and present this in both a comprehensive statement capable of rigorous examination and as an easily accessible summary.  As such it can be a powerful tool to support a range of development promotion activities as economic benefits are a material planning consideration.

Sequential Testing and Cumulative Impacts

Sequential testing can often be an essential prerequisite in demonstrating the suitability of a proposed development and is particularly used in relation to retail proposals or where flood risk may arise. In applying a sequential approach SPRU will assess sites for their availability, suitability and viability and for their ability to meet the full extent of assessed quantitative and qualitative needs.

Employment Land Review

SPRU is experienced in the assessment of existing employment supply and the translation of economic growth into demand for land and floorspace, taking into consideration local circumstances, market opinion and the potential for a variety of spatial and provision types.  SPRU will provide a robust investigation of supply and clear recommendation on the continued use of existing stock and the locational requirements of new premises.

Retail Issues and Strategies

SPRU has a dedicated team with a wide range of expertise in preparing retail strategies and retail impact assessment. SPRU welcomes enquiries from Government bodies and Local Authorities as well as from those who are seeking to promote individual retail or mixed use proposals with specific retail content.

Affordable Housing Need Assessments

An Affordable Housing Assessment is a material consideration for decision takers when assessing development proposals. The assessment of affordable housing requirements which can afford to be borne by a development is a material planning consideration.  SPRU has extensive experience of negotiating suitable affordable housing provision as well as other planning obligations based on robust evidence in relation to the assessment of policy compliant approaches to affordable housing and the impact on the viability of a scheme.

Sustainability Appraisals

SPRU regularly analyses the contents and the process of preparing Sustainability Appraisals that are used to ensure that appropriate weight is given to the key determining factors in Local Plan formulation.  In all cases DLP and SPRU will assess development proposals in light of the different aspects of sustainability, identifying the relevant sustainability policies, drawing together the contents of supporting technical reports prepared by the relevant experts as the methodology or the conclusions of the Appraisal can often be challenged and can have a material effect on the shape of the Plan itself.

Leisure Impact Assessments

SPRU has a wide range of expertise focused on the leisure sector, in relation to site finding and promotion and advising on the durability of existing policies and their fitness for purpose.  SPRU welcomes enquiries from leisure developers, those expected to provide leisure or recreational facilities as part of their development, and from Government bodies and Local Authorities in respect of all matters to do with open and built recreation and leisure facilities.

Town Centre Health Checks

SPRU has broad experience of undertaking Town Centre Health Checks on behalf of a number of local planning authorities in order to inform the preparation of Local Plans, drawing on available historic data, shopper and operator surveys as part of the preparation of a comprehensive evidence base.

John HelyarSPRU