Governments planning policy harms affordable housing
At the end of 2014, the Government made a change to the housing policy framework. The aim of the change was to support small developers in bringing forward developments. The changes have a impact to financial payments to infrastructure and affordable housing. Currently, under Cornwall’s draft Local Plan, the Council seeks either a financial contribution or element of affordable housing on schemes of two or more new units.
The kicker in this change of policy is no contributions either financially or by means of a percentage of affordable housing will be sought from developments of 10 or less. This is not good for community that wish to support small scale development that have an element of affordable housing. However, the new guidance does – and its a small saving grace to the change – allow Cornwall Council in AONB’s, National Parks and areas designated under the Housing Act can choose to reduce the threshold to five – something I believe Cornwall Council should do. So in those areas developers would be asked to make a financial contribution between six and ten. So those areas are not hit as bad.
It is not just future developments that will be affected, but those who have had planning already granted. At the time of writing Cornwall Council has around £2.2m worth of contributions towards affordable housing with schemes fewer than ten units. If a developer came back to renegotiate or even submit an amended plan, then these contributions could be at risk. It is hard to tell the extent of the impact, but in Cornwall there are 4000 units with planning permission on sites fewer than ten units and of the 4000, 3,200 are on sites with fewer than five units.
Unless the Government rows-back on this change, or is forced to change by means of a Judicial Review, this new policy will have a huge impact on affordable housing in Cornwall. And we already know the cost of housing is high, and without an affordable element, could make the housing crisis in Cornwall a lot worse.