Richard Dunn, Partner at Sanderson Weatherall, has teamed up with indigo planning to talk about these important changes in Planning Practice Guidance.
On 1 December 2014 an initiative aimed at getting empty or redundant land and property back to use was announced by Minister of State for Housing and Planning Brandon Lewis.
Earlier in 2014 the CIL regulations were amended to ease the burden on conversion or redevelopment of existing buildings. An exemption to the levy applies to conversion or redevelopment where no additional floorspace is proposed; only additional floorspace will attract a CIL liability.
In the statement he confirmed a similar provision in respect of affordable housing with the introduction of a vacant building credit. Where redevelopment or reuse of a vacant building is proposed, affordable housing contributions will only apply to an increase in floorspace. However, where a vacant building has been abandoned the affordable housing relief will not apply.
We anticipate that the Government will issue detailed advice in the very near future and this will clarify when a building is abandoned or merely vacant.
It is clear that the new provisions will help bring vacant buildings back into use, and conversion schemes requiring planning permission will benefit from the same nil-affordable housing requirement as currently benefits office-residential permitted development.
What is the vacant building credit?
Where a vacant building is brought back into any lawful use, demolished to be replaced by a new building, the developer should be offered a financial credit equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of relevant vacant buildings where the local planning authority calculates any affordable housing contributions which will be sought. Affordable housing contributions will be required for an increase in floorspace.
What is the process for determining the vacant building credit?
Where there is an overall increase in floorspace in the proposed development, the local planning authority should calculate the amount of affordable housing contributions required from the development as set out in their Local Plan, A ‘credit’ should then be applied which is the equivalent of the gross floorspace of any relevant vacant buildings being brought back into use or demolished as part of the scheme and deducted from the overall affordable housing contribution calculation.
Does the vacant building credit apply to any vacant building being brought back into use?
The vacant building credit applies where the building has not been abandoned.