Government Publishes Exemptions Policy to s.106 Affordable Housing Contributions article banner image

The Government announced on 28 November the outcome of their March 2014 consultation in respect of planning performance and planning contributions. After receiving comments from local authorities, developers and members of the public, the Government have amended the National Planning Practice Guidance to include the following changes to national planning policy:

1. Small scale developments, of 10 units or less (and which have a maximum combined gross floor space of 1000m2) will no longer be subject to affordable housing and tariff-style contributions. The Government have also confirmed that this will apply to both residential annexes and extensions.

2. For those sites that fall within a designated rural area, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Parks, local planning authorities may choose to implement a lower threshold of 5 or less units, below which they will not to seek affordable housing contributions.

3. If this lower threshold is implemented in respect of a development within a designated rural area, any affordable housing and tariff-style contributions due for developments of between 6 and 10 units will be commuted until such a time as the units have been completed.

4. The exemptions above do not apply in respect of Rural Exception Sites.

5. There are also restrictions on the use of other financial contributions, 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.

6. Some planning obligations may still be required to make a development acceptable in planning terms. Authorities can still seek obligations for site specific infrastructure – such as improving road access and the provision of adequate street lighting.

The Government is hopeful that these changes will help to kick-start small-scale developments that would otherwise have been financially unviable due to inhibitive affordable housing contributions. The changes will also make it much cheaper and easier for those who wish to erect residential extensions and self-builders.

Local Authorities have argued that the changes will lead to a reduction of affordable housing, especially in rural communities, which could see those on low-incomes struggle to afford housing in their villages.

We expect developers to seek to make use of this new guidance on existing and future planning applications and some will potentially revisit planning permissions for uncompleted schemes in order to review the Affordable Housing provision on those sites.

Chris Tofts is an associate in the planning team. Please call him on 01872 265100 or email if you require any advice or assistance.