England: Following their success in the Court of Appeal as we reported last week, the Government has returned the national 10-unit affordable housing threshold to its Planning Practice Guidance making it clear to Council’s that this is once again adopted Government policy which they must take into account in making planning decisions.
The relevant section of the online Planning Practice Guidance may be found here.
The same rules as previously applied are reintroduced. The standard threshold is 10-units or 1000 sqm gross floorspace – so affordable housing requirements could be applied to a scheme with 10 or fewer units but more than 1000 sqm floorspace. In some rural areas – notably National Parks and designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – the threshold is reduced to 5-units (but no reduced floorspace threshold).
In addition the changes also re-introduce the vacant building credit into the Planning Practice Guidance. This measure aims to provide an incentive for brownfield development on sites containing vacant buildings by providing a credit in the calculation of any affordable housing contributions equivalent to the existing floorspace being reused or demolished and replaced. The general process is for the affordable housing contribution to be calculated for the scheme and then reduced in proportion to the existing floorspace being reused or replaced compared to the final proposed floorspace. Things are rather unclear when it comes to whether the existing building is a “vacant building” and Councils are invited to consider whether the building is truly empty and redundant or has been make vacant for the sole purpose of re-development. Vacant building credit therefore cannot be assumed without first seeking confirmation from the Council.
If you have recently had planning for a scheme approved subject to affordable housing requirements but which now falls below the 10-unit (or 5-unit) threshold then get in touch with Pure Town Planning – we can help you have the affordable housing requirement removed.