News & insight

Local policy can overrule affordable housing small sites exemption

Marketing / 17 Mar, 17

Recent appeal decisions have brought to light the fact that national policy exempting small housing schemes from affordable housing contributions does not automatically override local policy.

Owen Pike, planning expert in our Bristol office, comments on the changes and how they might affect new residential developments.

“Previously, local affordable housing needed to be provided by major and minor developments, subject to viability considerations and tended to be a proportion of the total number of new units, as set out in local policy. In recent years, however, as the development market has slowed, fewer affordable buildings have been built on grounds of viability.”

“Local planning authorities were then forced to change their approach because of a Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) introduced in 2014; this stipulated that affordable housing should not be sought on schemes comprising fewer than ten units or less than 1,000 square metres of floor space, unless in National Parks or other sensitive landscapes.”

“But some recent appeal decisions have given more weight to the WMS whereby small sites have not had to make a contribution. Other decisions have favoured local policy requirements and accordingly, small sites have been refused permission due to an absence of affordable housing. The picture varies across the country.”

“Moving forward I believe that in areas where local policies are based on recent evidence and/or where small sites of less than 10 units have historically represented a large proportion of an authority’s new housing stock, the local planning authorities will be able to give more weight to their own policy requirements, rather than the WMS, in an attempt to ensure that sufficient affordable housing continues to be provided.”

For further information please contact Owen on 0117 338 1813 or owen.pike@sw.co.uk .

Topics: News

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