Affordable Housing - Revised Guidance

Revised policy guidance from the Government has clarified the applicability of affordable housing for smaller residential development sites.

The planning practice guidance note updated on the 28/11/2014 confirms that:-

  • Contributions should not be sought from developments of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1000sqm.
  • In designated rural areas, local planning authorities may choose to apply a lower threshold of 5-units or less. No affordable housing or tariff-style contributions should then be sought from these developments. In addition, in a rural area where the lower 5-unit or less threshold is applied, affordable housing and tariff style contributions should be sought from developments of between 6 and 10-units in the form of cash payments which are commuted until after completion of units within the development. This applies to rural areas described under section 157(1) of the Housing Act 1985, which includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Affordable housing and tariff-style contributions should not be sought from any development consisting only of the construction of a residential annex or extension to an existing home.

Many local authorities currently seek to apply affordable housing thresholds at lower levels (based on pre 2012 Adopted local plans).

The revised guidance will assist in providing a 'level playing field' across England. For example Cotswold District Council (2006 Adopted local Plan) seeks 50% affordable housing on any site outside of the main settlements.

In cases where local authorities have a local plan adopted since the publication of the national planning policy framework (March 2012), the revised guidance will be a material consideration but decision makers should continue to determine planning applications and planning appeals in accordance with the development plan.

Future planning appeal decisions will establish to what degree the revised practice guidance influences decision makers where an NPPF compliant local plan conflicts with the more up to date practice guidance.

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