Small housing schemes liable for affordable housing
A recently-introduced Government policy has been ripped up by a High Court decision issued on 31 July.
A recently-introduced Government policy which had exempted small developments from providing affordable housing and paying development contributions has been ripped up by a High Court decision issued on 31 July.
A legal challenge by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council has resulted in the Government removing several paragraphs from its online Planning Practice Guidance over the weekend. The deleted paragraphs, which had been introduced last November, had previously exempted small-scale developments (usually of 10 or fewer units) from having to provide contributions for affordable housing and tariff-style planning obligations. The paragraphs setting out details of the vacant building credit, an incentive for brownfield development on sites containing vacant buildings, have also been deleted following the ruling.
The judge ruled that the policy set out in these paragraphs was unlawful. As well as being incompatible with the legal framework for planning, it was found that Ministers lacked proper evidence to justify the policy, and that they had not taken sufficient account of adverse effects when drafting it. The judge made clear that it would need to be substantially re-written in order to become lawful.
The consequence of the ruling is that, with immediate effect, all applications for small developments are once again liable for affordable housing and other contributions, in accordance with other considerations such as Local Plan policies.
For more information, please contact Jonathan Buckwell or call 01622 776226.