Small housing developments now exempt from need to provide affordable housing

small housing developments

Recent changes to the government’s on-line planning guidance (NPPG) have clarified the circumstances in which local planning authorities should no longer require the provision of (or contributions towards) affordable housing.

Paragraph 012 of the national guidance on line resource states that: “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 floor space of no more than 1000 sq m
  • 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

Key among these exemptions is the 10 dwelling limit, which is aimed at supporting the smaller builder as well as self-build properties. Bear in mind, however the limit of 1,000 sq m floorspace, which for a 10-unit scheme would mean an average floor space of 100 sq m, which equates to a typical three bedroom dwelling. The exemption would not therefore apply to the development of 10 large ‘mansions’.

It is clear that in practice a number of planning authorities are still deciding how they respond to this government initiative. The NPPG is of course guidance and does not have the statutory force of an adopted local plan policy and it will be interesting to see how this potential conflict between recently adopted plans and this guidance will play out.

PWA Planning can advise on all aspects of the planning system and are abreast of the latest changes in government guidance, including this recent change in affordable housing requirements. Landowners or developers considering developments, or with existing planning permission for 10 dwellings or fewer should contact us for more advice.

For more information and to arrange an informal discussion, please contact PWA Planning on 01772 369 669.