Guidance Amended To Raise Affordable Housing Threshold

But does have a mid-noughties syle rural exemption.

Are there any circumstances where infrastructure contributions through planning obligations should not be sought from developers? 

There are specific circumstances where contributions for affordable housing and tariff style planning obligations (section 106 planning obligations) should not be sought from small scale and self-build development.

  • 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

Revision date: 28 11 2014

Paragraph: 013 Reference ID: 23b-013-20141128

Do the restrictions on seeking planning obligations apply to Rural Exception Sites?

The restrictions on seeking planning obligations contributions do not apply to development on Rural Exception Sites – although affordable housing and tariff-style contributions should not be sought from any development consisting only of the construction of a residential annex or extension within the curtilage of the buildings comprising an existing home.
Revision date: 28 11 2014
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What are tariff-style contributions? 

Some authorities seek planning obligations contributions to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to provide common types of infrastructure for the wider area.Planning obligations mitigate the impact of development which benefits local communities and supports the provision of local infrastructure. In applying the planning obligations local planning authorities must ensure that these meet the three tests that are set out as statutory tests in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, and as policy tests in the National Planning Policy Framework. These are: that they are necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms, directly related to the development, and fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind. For sites where the threshold applies, planning obligations should not be sought to contribute to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to fund the provision of general infrastructure in the wider area.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
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Can planning obligations be pooled where the threshold does apply? 

For sites where the threshold applies, planning obligations should not be sought to contribute to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to fund the provision of general infrastructure in the wider area.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
Paragraph: 016 Reference ID: 23b-016-20141128

How does the 10-unit threshold relate to the statutory definition of major development?

For the purposes of section 106 planning obligations only the definition of 10-units or less applies. This is distinct from the definition of major development in article 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
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Are there any exceptions to the 10-unit threshold? 

Local planning authorities may choose to apply a lower threshold of 5-units or less to development in designated rural areas being areas as described undersection 157 of the Housing Act 1985, which includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No affordable housing or tariff-style contributions should then be sought from these developments.Where this lower threshold is applied, local planning authorities should only seek affordable housing contributions from developments of between 6 to 10-units as financial contributions and not affordable housing units on site. Any payments made (whether as an affordable housing contribution or contribution to a pooled funding pot for general infrastructure provision) should also be commuted until after completion of units within the development.

Revision date: 28 11 2014See revisions
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What is the procedure for claiming a commuted contribution under a planning obligation? 

The terms of commuted contributions should form part of the discussions between a developer and a local planning authority and be reflected in any planning obligations agreement. Agreements should include clauses stating when the local planning authority should be notified of the completion of units within the development and when the funds should be paid. Both parties may wish to use the issue of a building regulations compliance certificate (called a completion certificate when given by a local authority and a final certificate when given by an approved inspector) as a trigger for payment.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
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Does this mean that no planning obligations can be sought for development under these 5 or 10-unit thresholds? 

Some planning obligations may still be required to make a development acceptable in planning terms. For sites where a threshold applies, planning obligations should not be sought to contribute to affordable housing or to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to fund the provision of general infrastructure in the wider area. Authorities can still seek obligations for site specific infrastructure – such as improving road access and the provision of adequate street lighting – where this is appropriate, to make a site acceptable in planning terms.  They may also seek contributions to fund measures with the purpose of facilitating development that would otherwise be unable to proceed because of regulatory or EU Directive requirements.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
Paragraph: 021 Reference ID: 23b-021-20141128

What is the vacant building credit? 

Where a vacant building is brought back into any lawful use, or is demolished to be replaced by a new building, the developer should be offered a financial credit equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of relevant vacant buildings when the local planning authority calculates any affordable housing contribution which will be sought. Affordable housing contributions would be required for any increase in floorspace.

Revision date: 28 11 2014
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What is the process for determining the vacant building credit? 

Where there is an overall increase in floorspace in the proposed development, the Local Planning Authority should calculate the amount of affordable housing contributions required from the development as set out in their Local Plan. A ‘credit’ should then be applied which is the equivalent of the gross floorspace of any relevant vacant buildings being brought back into use or demolished as part of the scheme and deducted from the overall affordable housing contribution calculation.
Revision date: 28 11 2014

Paragraph: 023 Reference ID: 23b-023-20141128

Does the vacant building credit apply to any vacant building being brought back into use? 

The vacant building credit applies where the building has not been abandoned.

One thought on “Guidance Amended To Raise Affordable Housing Threshold

  1. The text from the planning portal reads as follows:

    “Affordable homes exemption regime confirmed and clarified:

    National planning policy will be changed to exempt developments of 10 homes or fewer from the requirement to contribute towards affordable housing, ministers have confirmed.

    Residential developments with less than 1,000 square metres of floor space will also be exempt; the Department for Communities and Local Government has clarified.”

    The word “also” seems to be key and give the impression that the two criteria are not mutually exclusive?

    Your thoughts?

    If the two criteria are combined then the effect is simply going to be to encourage small builders to build small houses – not a good idea!

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