LOCAL authorities across the region have joined forces in a search for suitable housing land for the future - and are inviting the public to play their part. Torridge, North Devon and West Somerset District Councils and the Exmoor National Park Authority

LOCAL authorities across the region have joined forces in a search for suitable housing land for the future - and are inviting the public to play their part.Torridge, North Devon and West Somerset District Councils and the Exmoor National Park Authority are working together to ensure there is enough land available to deliver future housing requirements.As part of this aim, each authority will be preparing a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment for their area. These will not be to judge whether individual sites should be allocated or approved for housing, but to identify sites with the potential for housing development, to assess how future housing requirements can be met. Cllr Des Brailey, Portfolio Holder for Community and Spatial Planning in North Devon, said: "This partnership approach of working will ensure consistency and compatibility of information. We will all be following the same method in identifying potential sites within our villages and towns, to see if they are appropriate for development. That way, we will be able to compare results between other local planning authorities."Torridge Councillor Cllr Miranda Cox, chairperson of the Local Development Framework, said: "The study is an important piece of work in that it will ensure that future development is directed to the most appropriate and sustainable locations - on brownfield sites, where possible, helping to increase affordable homes and keep villages sustainable, while protecting woodland, hedging, waterways and keeping green links through new developments."The authorities have drafted proposals on how to prepare the SHLAA reports. This includes information and arrangements on how sites will be assessed and who will be involved in the process. They also propose to set up a "stakeholder panel" of industry experts and community representatives to help assess the suitability and availability of individual sites and ensure the results of the assessment report are realistic.Although the process has begun, the authorities are keen to see public involvement.A six-week consultation period starts on January 29 and will run until March 11. Full details are available on-line at http://www.torridge.gov.uk/ldf. Or contact Ian Rowland on (01237) 428748 or e-mail shlaa@torridge.gov.ukAnother opportunity to get involved will be provided in the near future through a public call for potential housing sites. This will allow people to present potential housing sites to the authorities, so that they can be assessed as part of the SHLAA. Further details of this will be publicised later.