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Planning reforms propose temporary lifting of affordable housing requirement

Alongside last week’s Planning White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’, the Government launched a further consultation entitled ‘Changes to the Current Planning System’ covering four topics as follows :

  • Changes to the standard method of assessing local housing need
  • Securing First Homes through developer contributions
  • Temporary lifting of the small sites threshold
  • Extending the existing Permission in Principle to major development

The third of these potential changes is particularly interesting because it proposes – for a temporary 18 month period only – an increase to the threshold for affordable housing to either 40 or 50 units as a stimulus to SME housebuilders to get the market moving post Covid. Presently in most LPA districts the threshold is 10 units or  5 in rural locations.

This change – if implemented – offers a unique opportunity to obtain planning consent on medium scale housing  developments with no affordable housing provision at all. You may therefore wish to consider the timing of future planning applications or even resubmitting existing consents yet to be commenced to take advantage of this concession.

This is a consultation document presently and it has yet to be committed policy nor do we know the conditions to be attached but we expect a final decision to be made by Government by the end of this year or early in 2021. If adopted it should open the floodgates for a series of ‘quick win’ applications for smaller developers to boost housing supply.