Changes to Affordable Housing Contribution Threshold

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2016

Salvatore Amico, Associate, explains the recent Court of Appeal decision that has restored a government policy which reduced the threshold for affordable homes contributions.

Salvatore Amico, Associate, explains the recent Court of Appeal decision that has restored a government policy which reduced the threshold for affordable homes contributions. The National Planning Policy Framework required local planning policies to make provision for affordable housing. Due to government concerns relating to the decline in the small scale building industry, the secretary of state amended national planning practice guidance, by way of a ministerial statement, so that development of 10 units (5 units in designated rural areas) or 1,000 square metres or less would be excluded from affordable housing levies and tariff-based contributions.

The policy on small sites affordable housing contributions came into force in November 2014 in order to boost the delivery of housing. It was introduced to ease the burden on small scale developers and self-builders caused by disproportionate developer contributions.

West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council challenged the policy amendment due to their concern that the new policy would reduce the provision of affordable housing by allowing smaller sites to be exempt from any obligation to provide affordable housing. They argued the amendment would effectively negate local plans and that it would result in a windfall for developers.

The High Court allowed that challenge holding that the alteration to national policy in relation to affordable housing obligations by way of ministerial statement, was unlawful. The consultation process undertaken before the change had been unfair, material considerations had not been taken into account in making the decision, it had been adopted without complying with the public sector equality duty and the new policy was inconsistent with the statutory scheme and its purposes.

The Court of Appeal has now overturned that decision, in a challenge brought by the government and Ministers have branded the High Court action brought by West Berkshire and Reading as “a total waste of tax payers money”.

The decision delivered by the Court of Appeal on the 11 May 2016 has brought to an end months of uncertainty with many potential development proposal not being able to come forward. Following the decision, developers and landowners seeking to develop smaller sites are not faced with the financial hurdles that could prevent them from building any homes at all.

For more information contact the Planning Team on 01992 568027

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