Changes to Affordable Housing thresholds

Changes to national policy highlight that there are specific circumstances where contributions for affordable housing should not be sought from small scale and self-build development. This change is expected to provide a significant boost to developers of relatively small, particularly brownfield, housing sites.

Due to the disproportionate burden of developer contributions on small-scale developers, for sites of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floor space of 1,000 square metres, affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought. This will also apply to all residential annexes and extensions.

There are exceptions for designated rural areas, which includes national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty, where authorities may choose to implement a lower threshold of 5-units or less, beneath which affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought.

These changes in national planning policy do not apply to rural exception sites which, subject to the local area demonstrating sufficient need, remain available to support the delivery of affordable homes for local people.

In the same changes financial credits, equivalent to the existing gross floor space of any vacant buildings brought back into any lawful use or demolished for re-development, should be deducted from the calculation of any affordable housing contributions sought from relevant development schemes. This will not however apply to vacant buildings which have been abandoned.

This follows the judgement made earlier this year in which the Court of Appeal allowed the Government’s appeal against the judgment in West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2015] EWHC 2222 (Admin).