In a Written Ministerial Statement on 28 November 2014, Brandon Lewis MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, announced that the Government was making a number of changes to the national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) with regard to Section 106 planning obligations. These included the introduction of a threshold beneath which affordable housing contributions should not be sought.
The Ministerial statement confirms that:
(a) For sites of 10 units or less and which have a maximum combined gross floor space of 1,000 square metres, affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought.
(b) In designated rural areas (under Section 157 of the Housing Act 1985), authorities may choose to implement a lower threshold of five units or less, beneath which affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought.
(c) Affordable housing and tariff style contributions should not be sought in relation to residential annexes and extensions.
(d) A financial credit, equivalent to the existing gross floor space of any vacant buildings brought back into any lawful use or demolished for re-development, should be deducted from the calculation of any affordable housing contributions sought from relevant development schemes.
Shropshire Council was particularly concerned by proposals a), b) and d) and through the consultation process in April 2014, put forward a comprehensive evidence response on how these changes would fundamentally affect the Council’s ability to deliver much needed rural affordable housing directly on site or indirectly through financial support for Registered Providers (RP’s) and as a consequence it would undermine its housing and community sustainability aspirations enshrined within its adopted Core Strategy.
This statement has been met with much consternation from Local Authorities, particularly rural authorities and other respected national organisations representing rural communities and rural housing.
Following the Ministerial Statement and update to the National Planning Practice Guidance the Council placed a report before the Council’s Cabinet on 21 January 2015. The Council’s Cabinet met and considered a report outlining the consequences of applying the Ministerial Statement of 28 November and the Council’s current Type and Affordability of Housing SPD which sets out the Council’s policy on the provision of affordable housing on open market developments in Shropshire .
The following decision was made:
(a) That the Council lobbies the Minister to review his statement to take account of differing conditions nationally and locally.
(b) That the Council notes the Ministerial statement and amendments to the National Planning Practice Guidance as a material consideration in determining a planning application.
(c) That the Council continues to give full weight to Policy CS11 of the adopted Core Strategy and Type and Affordability of Housing SPD and continues to seek on site provision of affordable housing and/or developer contributions to the provision of affordable housing in relation to all sites.”
Following the decision of the Council’s Cabinet to continue to give full weight to Policy CS11 of the adopted Core Strategy and the Type and Affordability of Housing SPD the Council will continue to seek provision of on-site affordable housing and/or affordable housing contributions for all residential developments of 10 dwellings or less within the Shropshire area and will continue to require developers to enter into s.106 agreements for this purpose.
Communities and Housing Policy