A recent appeal win by Chapman Lily Planning has provided some much needed clarity on how the new affordable housing thresholds should be applied. We have previously reported how, following a Court of Appeal ruling, the government had formally updated its Planning Policy Guidance Notes in May 2016 and reintroduced the relevant sections relating to planning obligations. The updates included that affordable housing and tariff style planning obligations (section 106 planning obligations) should not be sought from small scale and self-build development. These are developments of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floor space of no more than 1000sqm, or 5 units or less in National Parks.
Although most Local Planning Authorities have applied the new thresholds since the Planning Policy Guidance was updated a minority have sought to continue to apply their own thresholds, giving their local policies more weight than the national guidance. One such example was New Forest District Council, who were continuing to apply their own thresholds of one unit of more.
Chapman Lily Planning recently represented a client in an appeal in respect of a site near Fawley. The proposed development was one of five homes. New Forest District Council argued at the appeal hearing that their own need for affordable housing should outweigh the national planning policy guidance. Matt Holmes, Director of Chapman Lily Planning who represented the appellants at the hearing, argued in response that the Council’s need was not so unique as to outweigh the national planning guidance, and that to do so would be counter to the aims of the guidance in encouraging the development of small sites and therefore delivering more homes. The Inspector agreed, concluding in the appeal decision that,
‘The Council sought to persuade me that it should in some way be excepted from the effects of the judgement because of the particular circumstances of its local housing market and the demand for affordable housing. Whilst I recognise those demands, it is clear to me firstly that the Ministerial statements have as their objective to boost the supply of new housing on small sites, irrespective of the affordable housing position, and secondly that there is no indication that an area such as that containing the appeal site should be exempted from its provisions’.
The Inspector went on to conclude that,
‘I also take the view that Government policy is a material consideration, as referred to in Section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to which I should afford substantial weight. I therefore conclude that the Written Ministerial Statements should override Policy CS15 of the adopted Core Strategy’.
The appeal was allowed.
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