England: In a surprise High Court ruling issued on Friday (31 July) the Government’s policy for a national affordable housing threshold (of 10-units or 1000 sqm), which was introduced back in November, has been quashed. The policy no longer applies effective immediately. In the same decision the vacant building credit is also removed from Government policy.
The upshot is that Councils can resume applying the threshold which they have adopted through the local plan. It means that some Councils will again be seeking a contribution towards affordable housing from every development creating any net increase in dwellings. We have put together a quick reference guide to the prevailing affordable housing thresholds in Dorset and Hampshire as a handy reminder – it is available here. Remember, depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to put together a case to reduce or remove completely affordable housing requirements on viability grounds.
Some of our clients will have live applications or appeals we are handling which may be affected by this change. At this stage it is difficult to know how the relevant authorities will treat such cases – we will be in touch on individual cases as soon as we know more.
It remains to be seen how the Government will react to this ruling – do they have the appetite to try and resolve the issues and reintroduce the policy? I suspect not, but we will see…
In the meantime you have any queries on how this court decision affects your proposal then please get in touch with us.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from the Department for Local Government and Communities has told Planning Magazine that they intend to seek permission to challenge the judge’s decision.