Thoughts For The Day…

October 29, 2015 10:16 am Published by

Affordable Housing Chaos

The government’s inability to construct a stable affordable housing narrative has kept us on our toes at Adam Roberts over the last few months.

In November 2014 the Housing Minister announced that affordable housing contributions made through Section 106 agreements, including both on site and financial contributions, would no longer be required from developments of 10 units or less. This was great news to many of our developer clients, small ones in particular, who found that affordable housing costs could often make developments unviable.

However, fast forward to 30th July 2015 and the housing industry finds itself doing a 180 again. Reading and West Berkshire Councils successfully brought a challenge to the High Court arguing that this change in policy would result in an unacceptable drop in the number of affordable units being brought forward, thus quashing the Housing Minister’s pet policy. This was great news to many of our other clients, housing associations and local authorities.

Since that news broke, we have been inundated with requests for Section 106 consultancy from developments at all different stages. Some clients have waited to put in applications thinking that the rules would not change, others have found their applications subject to S106 agreements just as they were about to be approved, others still have found local authorities opening negotiations despite planning permission being granted.

More recently still, David Cameron has announced that he wants to attempt to scrap the requirement for affordable homes again. In his conference speech he announced that instead of providing affordable homes for rent, developers would be able to provide ‘starter homes’; new build houses sold to first time buyers under 40 at a discount of at least 20% off market prices. Developers could also offer a cash payment to local authorities to avoid this obligation. More information is needed on how this would all work, as this policy would appear to contradict the National Planning Policy Framework, and the Housing Bill contains a clause that would allow the Secretary of State to dictate local authorities’ implementation of the policy.

The story continues…

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