17 August, 2015
The High Court has, on 31 July 2015, overturned planning guidance which exempts small sites from Section 106 affordable housing rules.
West Berkshire and Reading borough councils successfully challenged the government's decision to exempt developers from providing affordable homes on schemes with less than 10 houses (in rural areas a lower threshold of 5 homes applied). This decision has come under much criticism from the Federation of Master Builders and Department for Communities and Local Government as they fear it will have a disproportionate impact on smaller builders providing homes for local communities. It is anticipated permission to appeal will be sought against the judge's decision.
Justice David Holgate felt the policies were 'incompatible with statutory planning framework' and that S106 agreements are required to provide essential affordable housing and to mitigate the effect of development on local infrastructure.
The two local authorities were concerned that they would be unable to meet the level of affordable housing they had assessed as being required within their plans as a result of the policies first introduced in November. The judge sympathised with the authorities, quashed the policies and ordered the government to pay the Council's legal costs.
This decision is good news for the sector; particularly for small sites located in rural communities. We will provide further updates if permission to appeal is sought but if you require any information in the meantime please contact Lucy Worrall, Head of Housing and Regeneration (Property) or Lauren Smith, Solicitor in Housing and Regeneration (Property) at Forbes Solicitors.