Landmark ruling quashes affordable housing threshold
And vacant building credit

Landmark ruling quashes affordable housing threshold

“The High Court delivered a landmark judgment on 31 July 2015 that quashed national planning guidance that allowed landowners and developers to bring forward small scale housing development without incurring certain Section 106 planning obligations”, reports Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

Dinnis explains “the relevant planning guidance took precedence over adopted local plans to aid the delivery of small scale housing development by preventing Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) from applying affordable housing and tariff style financial contributions for developments of 10 dwellings or fewer, and which have a combined gross floor space of no more than 1,000 square metres. In designated areas such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, LPAs were able to choose whether to apply a lower threshold of 5 units or fewer (Rural Exceptions Sites were excluded from the threshold).  The guidance also excluded buildings brought back into use from affordable housing contributions”.

The judgement concluded the Government had failed to take into account the full implications of the policy on the supply of affordable housing; the consultation process on the policy was “unfair and unlawful”; and that the policy was inconsistent with the core principles of the statutory planning framework because it introduced a blanket exemption from affordable housing requirements that trumped local plans instead of providing guidance.

“As a result of the ruling the planning guidance has been removed with immediate effect.  The implications of this are potentially disastrous for schemes where affordable housing and extra costs from tariff style contributions risk undermining their financial viability and therefore prevent them from getting built at all.  The removal of the guidance also means that LPAs will be able to once again seek tariff style contributions such as payments towards open space, sport and recreation provisions as a condition for the approval of agricultural worker dwellings.  In some cases that could add thousands of pounds to the cost of farm dwellings”, concludes Dinnis.  We understand the Government will be seeking permission to appeal the ruling.  If permission is granted, it will however be some time before there is a decision from the Court of Appeal.

For advice on rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 214052 or at briandinnis@acornrpc.co.uk.

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