Tim Sharpley

Partner & Solicitor

DATE PUBLISHED: 16 May 2016 LAST UPDATED: 07 Jul 2023

Housing has become much more affordable

On Wednesday 11 May 2016, the High Court decision ([2015] EWHC Admin 2222) to uphold a Judicial Review challenge by two local authorities (West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council) and declaration of a planning policy circulated by the Secretary of State in a Written Ministerial Statement as unlawful, has recently been overturned on appeal.

The Written Ministerial Statement subject to the Judicial Review concerned the national threshold for exclusion from affordable housing levies on developments of 10 units or less, or with a total combined floor space not exceeding 1000m2.

The outcome of the appeal will see the policy introduced in November 2014 by the Department for Communities and Local Government reintroduced. As a result, schemes of development of 10 units or 1000m2 or less will be excluded from affordable housing levies and tariff based contributions (all residential extensions and annexes would also benefit from this exclusion). The policy however provides for authorities in designated rural areas (including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) to choose to implement a lower threshold of 5 units or less.

This policy was originally intended to promote smaller-scale residential housing development, which had, in the Secretary of State’s opinion, been somewhat stifled by the national affordable housing levies and tariffs, and had not fully recovered after the recession. The re-introduction of the policy is therefore expected to prompt an increase in small scale residential development projects which it is hoped will help with national housing needs.

As of today the Department for Communities and Local Government has not issued anything concerning the reinforcement of the policy. Were the policy to be reintroduced via another Written Ministerial Statement, it would apply to local planning authorities almost immediately. However, if the policy is implemented via legislation, the reintroduction could take considerably more time to be affected.

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