Tag Archives: affordable housing

Castle Point Council supply of Affordable Housing severely Unviable? Canvey Island in the Spotlight Again?

The “Viability” reasoning used by developers to justify their low levels of Affordable Housing supply, serves them well in Castle Point.

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Canvey Island, densely urbanised yet always room for more!

Going back to the Glebelands proposal, the Inspector considered that “the scheme would provide 35% affordable housing which would equate to about 58 dwellings” and that “I am satisfied that Castle Point has an acute shortage of affordable housing, and that this must have serious adverse consequences for persons in housing need. There is therefore an urgent need for additional affordable housing in the Borough.”

Given this it is surprising that such easy capitulation from cpbc, allowed the Kiln road scheme to argue viability reasoning to support a reduction in the supply of Affordable Housing units.

The Castle Point draft Local plan 2016 version stated “In Castle Point there is a need for at least 73% of new homes to be affordable, assuming delivery at 200 homes per annum.”

Records indicate that 16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point during 2016/17.

Generally smaller schemes in the Borough appear to result in no affordable units being developed on site, but a financial contribution to cpbc being made.

It would be interesting to learn the route these funds take once they enter cpbc accounts, how soon they are released and where the affordable housing is actually located. we are aware of the Flatted development at Long Road Canvey for instance. Of course Affordable Housing is usually only affordable once!

It might be easily argued that with the lower land values at Canvey Island affordable housing could more easily be developed there, however given that the same cpbc 2016 draft Local plan indicated that-

“Compared with other parts of the borough Canvey Island is relatively more deprived, with pockets of income and employment deprivation, and wider issues associated with the education and skills of residents.”

However, more new affordable housing, especially in the form of social housing for instance, would further add to deprivation levels on the Island, especially as needy residents from across the Borough may be eligible to relocate to Canvey!

A report published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has found that 63 per cent of UK councils rate their affordable housing need as severe.
Of the 141 councils that responded to a survey question about characterising their affordable housing need, a further 35 per cent said it was moderate.
Written and researched by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), the report – Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World – says that a lack of investment in “genuine affordable housing” alongside “deregulation of planning” is reducing the ability of local authorities to deliver the homes the nation needs.
It says over two-thirds of councils in England state that statutory homelessness levels have increased in their local area in the past 12 months and 57 per cent state that rough sleeping has also increased during this period.
It notes that in an attempt to deliver more housing, the government has introduced permitted development rights, which requires a prior approval process but not a full planning application to the local authority. As a result, more homes have been created, but it has not enabled councils to secure much-needed affordable housing or help them to deal with rising homelessness.
Delivering Affordable Homes in a Changing World makes a number of recommendations, including:
· The social housing green paper should not just be “tinkering”. It should represent a step change in the role of central government as a powerful enabler of social housing, leaving delivery in the hands of local authorities and their delivery partners.
· The government should make clear that right to buy rules do not apply to local authority housing companies. However, if the right to buy rules are going to apply to homes built by local authority housing companies they must be able to replace them on a 1:1 basis to ensure that the long-term investment programme is not undermined.
· The government should reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.
· The government should not extend permitted development rights to allow commercial buildings to be demolished and replaced with homes.
Paul O’Brien, chief executive at APSE, said: “Decent housing in a well-planned environment provides a foundation for helping people to maximise their contribution to society, and to create areas that are economically prosperous. What our report highlights is the extent to which insecure tenancy arrangements in the private rented sector are directly contributing to the rise in homelessness. We need local councils to act as ‘market disruptors’; bringing stability and capacity to the social rented sector which in turn will help to stem these almost unprecedented rises in both statutory homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Investment in high-quality social housing can also save public funds, O’Brien continued. It can reduce poor physical and mental health outcomes “currently experienced by those living in an unstable private rented sector or those in temporary accommodation”.
He said the government must be “bold and ambitious” in addressing the housing issues for those most in need. Part of the solution is to help councils return to providing homes.
Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said the ability of councils to address the lack of affordable housing is being “undermined by planning deregulation”.
Henderson explained that if applicants aren’t obliged to obrain full planning permission, councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer, while “little or no thought is given to the most basic issues, such as where children can play or whether there are enough doctors’ surgeries in the area”.
“We are calling on the government to reverse the central imposition of permitted development and give powers back to local authorities to reflect local circumstances.”

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“Time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need?”

Green Belt is put under further pressure from Housing and Business development by the fashionable approach that an area’s Rural Idyllic Value should become an addition to the existing agreed list of Functions.

A Point is made to support Green Belt being released for development that “over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities“. This only proves that using an exaggeration provides a headline rather than gravity to the claim, that the answer to fixing our broken housing market, lies in the Green belt!

Releasing Green Belt isn’t the easy fix, especially where the need for affordable homes is concerned. Indeed quite the opposite, for despite the comparative ease and economics of developing on Green Belt over previously developed areas, levels of affordable housing being provided is low, apparently through viability reasoning!

Of course a Review of Green Belt should be included within a Local Plan process but challenging or undermining of the Green Belt Functions should not be the only test for release.

In the case of Canvey Island, Green Belt, what little that remains, and Green Field land perform far more than the 5 Functions.

Local planners would do well to remember this before it is too late and we have far more to worry about than “pouring pollution” into the urbanised area!

The level of proposed releases of Green Belt is concerning, it will not bring an immediate Fix to the Broken Housing Market. Developers will not build at a rate that would collapse the housing market values!

A balanced approach is required on Housing Supply and Population levels in areas able to support and keep safe current and future residents in appropriate areas. isn’t that what Sustainable Housing should be based on?

Politics of Planning blog posted, 11May 2018:

Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh has called for unused ‘wasteland’ in the Green Belt to be developed. The Member of Parliament for Mitcham and Morden argues that the development of such land would go some way to addressing the housing crisis, whilst preserving genuine areas of natural beauty.

Ms McDonagh is advocating that an extra million new homes be built in London, where 22% of the land within its boundaries is Green Belt, and has made a written submission to the NPPF consultation to this effect. She says that she has found many examples of such land within minutes of train stations across the country.

Commenting on the situation, Ms McDonagh said:
“I have no desire to call for building in our countryside or on the flowing fields of green that we should be so grateful to have. My frustration is not with parks and hills or areas of natural beauty. And of course, I have no intention of calling for housing in areas with environmental protection… There are 128,000 children in England living in temporary accommodation, desperate for a place to call home. In the hearts of our towns and cities, and close to public transport, scrubland, rubbish tips and car washes are inappropriately designated as Green Belt land. It’s time to burst the myth that all Green Belt is green and use it for the homes our children so desperately need. It’s time to grasp the nettle and to stop promising new homes without the means of providing them.”
Siobhain McDonagh said that the idea has support across both parties and amongst a number of thinktanks. Matthew Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute agrees with Ms McDonagh, and believes that there is a common romantic misconception over the true nature of the Green Belt. He commented:
“Far from rolling hills and daisy strewn meadows, the Green Belt is anything but a rural idyll. Over 60 percent is farmland, with herbicides and pesticides pouring air pollution into our cities.”

Siobhain McDonagh’s intervention came in the same week as the National Planning Summit, held on 10 May in London. Her opinions are in step with Christine Whitehead of the Government’s Build-out Review Panel – the Letwin Review – who told the Summit that a “very large proportion” of the problem of why planning permissions fail to be built out is an over-reliance on large housing sites. Ms Whitehead added that “between 2008 and 2014, over 50% of permissions were on large sites, and five per cent of the output was on large sites.”

Ms McDonagh’s idea would certainly free up many small sites within London, and it will be interesting to see whether this issue is considered by the Letwin Review, which is due to be published before the Autumn Budget in November 2018.

Castle Point Council face Testicular Examination Ahead! Whilst Nuneaton Council act as Local Plan Pathfinders?

Having promised to stand firm over Infrastructure before more Housing, the new Castle Point Borough Council regime will now have their resolve fully tested by the Government’s team sent into the Borough to oversee progress on the Local Plan.

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Residents, having shown confidence in the Lead group of councillors by giving them an increased majority at the May 2018 local elections, will be expecting them to be able to revive the latest withdrawn Local Plan following 12 months of intensive and “tireless” Duty to Cooperate work following the Examination inspector’s criticisms.

The protection of Green Belt was paramount to Residents concerns, and any backing away from the local authorities position will be open to criticism!

This may be particularly so in the light of promises to overturn the Borough Plan made in another area, Nuneaton, where the successful Conservative group promised to:

“Protect existing communities and deliver the roads, health and school services we need.
 Reduce the housing numbers based on new government guideline figures.
 Withdraw from Labour’s secret agreement to take Coventry’s overspill.” 

“Distribute housing more fairly around the Borough to enhance not destroy existing communities.”
 “Ensure our communities finally receive the much needed road improvements, schools, GPs, shops and essential facilities they deserve, 
 Prioritise Brownfield sites first, protecting our existing communities by removing unsuitable and unsustainable sites from Labour’s broken Borough plan.”

Andrew Lainton, of Decisions Decisions, Decisions blog suggests:

“However the Borough Plan is mid examination with initial findings due to be published this month.

As the inspectors findings are binding the only alternative to fulfill the manifesto would be to withdraw the local plan.

This would put the Council in special measures.” 

The Nuneaton Tory Group’s reference to Unsuitable and Unsustainable sites is interesting and should, but doubtfully will, provoke examination at Castle Point.

The wholesale blanket application of the Sequential Test across Canvey Island would, elsewhere, be expected to be deemed Unsustainable.

In effect despite being a flood Zone 3a, any Housing Development proposed for Canvey Island is deemed appropriate!

This is evidenced in each and every Application paperwork by officers, following councillors instruction, having “persuaded” the Environment Agency that Canvey Island is a Special Case!

An illustration of this, taken from the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report 2016-17 states; “It should be noted that there is no specific policy on flood risk included within the Local Plan (1998 adopted version) and therefore the Council relies on national policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and its technical guidance in respect of such matters.

Of course since then the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment has recognised that Canvey Island is at Actual Risk of Tidal Flooding and the Integrated Urban Drainage Study was researched and published following the 2014 Summer Flooding of Canvey Island!

Castle Point councillors, those involved on the development committee at least, appear willing to accept responsibility for future Flooding of housing and danger to residents, whether from Surface Water or Tidal.

So far that has paid handsomely. Over time and following Flood events, that may prove less so, as Housing built since the 1st January 2009 is not eligible for the Flood Re Insurance Protection that makes available affordable insurance.

Should this problem emerge mortgages on “new” builds may well be denied due to insurance issues. New Canvey Island House Buyers may well be walking into this trap unaware.

The development of Canvey Island both Industrial and Housing continues unabated, this will intensify the pressures on the already broken drainage system, and road and health service infrastructures.

The cpbc Annual Monitoring Report also states, “the proportion of new homes provided on previously developed land to remain lower than in earlier years.”

and that, even more worryingly; 

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%,”

An example of the inadequacy of our local authority is illustrated within the cpbc Sequential test documentation to support the first of the local plans, the Core Strategy, in which it was admitted “The Environment Agency met with the Council in 2007 to identify criteria under which they would allow development to proceed on Canvey Island. The final criterion was the need to ensure that the Emergency Planners and Emergency Services were satisfied with the measures in place to ensure safety in the event of a flood.

These services had not been consulted in the preparation of PPS25, and as such this requirement was a surprise to them, for which they were not prepared.

A typical approach by developers to overcome the Constraint on Housing by Flood Risk on Canvey Island and acceptable to CPBC is demonstrated here;

  • “The application site is located on Canvey Island, which is situated entirely within Flood Risk Zone 3a,
  • The Council has undertaken an annual review of Strategic Housing Land Availability (SHLAA) since 2011. This process has consistently indicated the need for a greater supply of housing land to meet the objectively assessed housing needs of the borough.
  • When applying a sequential test it is important to have regard to the local context. Canvey Island is a distinctive community, accommodating 43% of the borough’s population. It has specific identified needs in terms of social, economic and physical regeneration, as well as housing.
  • In order for residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island it is considered that it needs to be located within that settlement.”

The Level of delivery of Affordable Housing and the continued influx of new Residents from outside of the Area onto Canvey Island suggest that “residential development to serve the community of Canvey Island” is simply too broad a sweeping statement intended to be a means of simply granting Planning Permission to bolster the BOROUGH’s Housing Supply in an Unsuitable Location!

It would appear unusual, if not unreasonable, for a local authority to seek to increase the Urban Density by developing Green field land and intensifying Brownfield development,  supposedly under the guise of satisfying the Need of the Canvey Island Community, when in effect it simply intensifies Inward Migration, in an area specifically under the threat of both Tidal and Surface Water Flood Risk!

We eagerly look forward to learn what Resolve, Metal, Determination and hopefully Fairness, the new administration at Castle Point council are able to apply to the ongoing Local Plan process in the shadow of Government Intervention!

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Like a bad Smell, this just will not Go Away!

The full Decisions Decisions, Decisions post may be read HERE.

Castle Point’s “Surgeless” Supply of Affordable Housing an Examination concern? Brighton indicate the way with Transparency!

Nearly 5 Years after Castle Point Council were promising a “surge” in the supply of Affordable Homes in the Borough, through the Echo newspaper;

Norman Smith, cabinet member for economic development and business liaison, said: “It is very disappointing that affordable homes are not being built in the borough for those wanting to find a home in the borough.
“But following the approval of recent planning applications, in terms of affordable housing, I do not think it will be long before we start seeing a change.”

This “good news” story came in the wake of; “Castle Point is suffering a major shortfall in housing as no new affordable homes have been built for almost a year.” *

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Disappointingly for those in need of such housing, the latest published cpbc Annual Monitoring Report fails to indicate any such expected / promised “Surge” in Affordable Housing Supply in Castle Point having been forthcoming;

“16 affordable housing units were delivered in Castle Point in 2016/17, representing 14% of total housing provision (114 dwellings). This level of provision is an improvement on the annual average provision for the period 2001 to 2016 of 11.5%, but significantly below the housing market requirement for affordable housing identified in the South Essex Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2016 of between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum.”

“The indicates that provision in line with OAN would require between 50% and 57% of new homes per annum across the housing market area to be affordable in order to meet the need for affordable housing.”

We trust that the Affordable Housing Supply does NOT include that of Caravans, of which the cpbc Annual Monitoring Report states;

“Since April 2011, the number of people living within caravans in Castle Point has continued to increase. Initially, the increase was rapid, with the number of units increasing 16% between 2011 and 2014. This fell in 2015 and 2016, but this increased to 124 additional caravans falling into residential use, according to Council Tax records in 2016/17.”

“The number of people living in caravans is still significant, and presents an issue for the Council. Caravans do not represent high quality living accommodation as there are issues with winter warmth and over-heating in summer associated with such accommodation.”

Developer David Wilson Homes is constructing 150 new homes on land off Kiln Road, a development which will see the provision of 53 affordable homes.

AND YET; castle point council planning portal reveals Kiln Road developer and the Council have signed a S106 Agreement to provide just 14 affordable dwellings in the first phase of 71 new homes!
A supply of just 20% affordable.

The success of development in Kiln Road is unmistakeable and lucrative. Over 2 years ago it was publicised that homes selling for up to £600,000 were being bought off-plan, such was the demand.

The developer claiming that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme meant that purchasers only need a 5% deposit and that the development is suitable for families and first time buyers. **

This when the refused Glebelands developent was offering 30% Affordable Housing Supply and the daft New Local Plan was proposing 25%, as the requisite for the mainland area!

The defenceless castle point council whose planning department and committee agreed that viability was an issue in the supply of the required Affordable Housing at Kiln Road, will face this issue as a major hurdle if and when their Local Plan eventually reaches Examination by an Inspector, their previous historical supply being unsupportable.

In contrast Brighton City Council aim to achieve more. They are now expecting developers to make public their Viability Assessments on Affordable Housing Supply alongside development proposals.

Setting their expectation levels far higher than those of castle point council, Brighton CC admit;  “This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.”

The Brighton and Hove City Council statement reads;

“Property developers could be made to publicly disclose detailed financial information in cases where they say they cannot meet affordable housing targets set out in Brighton & Hove’s City Plan.
At present the city council requires developments of over five or more residential units to provide a percentage of affordable housing – unless it would make a scheme financially unviable. All schemes over 15 units should provide 40 per cent affordable housing.
Currently developers submit viability assessments to the council which are then independently assessed by the District Valuer Services (DVS). The viability information and the independent assessment are currently not disclosed to the public in order to protect commercial confidentiality.
This lack of transparency has led to public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been accepted by the council on grounds of viability.
Now the authority is proposing to insist that developers show their sums in applications falling short of the affordable housing target. It would require a full Viability Assessment submitted up front with the rest of the application information.
Councillors are being asked to approve the new requirements in a report to the tourism, development and culture committee on 11 January. The proposals set out in the report are in line with the need for more openness sought by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and recently proposed government consultation paper.
A public consultation on the issue was held in the autumn. The majority of respondents felt the measures would lead to greater transparency, understanding and trust in the planning system. Broadly, developers were concerned that commercially sensitive information could be disclosed and this had the potential to hinder development in the city.
Committee chair Cllr Alan Robins said: “In many cases there may be perfectly good reasons why a developer cannot meet 40 per cent. For example a council might want them to pay for other things such as a new leisure centre. But sometimes developers might be trying their luck by raising viability issues. Either way, it could be beneficial for the public to have the same information as councillors on the planning committee, so that everyone understands why a given amount of affordable housing was accepted or rejected.”
If approved, the new requirements would come into force early this year.”

Since when did Canvey Island become the New Klondike?

Canvey Island, the only town with a Housing Crisis?

Well it certainly appears to be the ONLY town in the Borough of Castle Point to be!

Attracted by the apparent “open spaces”, according to the Echo, Canvey is now expected to be the answer to London’s Housing Crisis, as well as providing Housing for its own “Distinct Community”!

The latest Carrot dangled before local politicians is the £2,000,000,000 extra government funding to assist the country’s “Broken Housing Market”.

Whilst Thorney Bay has been the answer to many local authorities own housing problems, the regeneration of the site into Sandy Bay, now appears to mean these housing problems are now, solely Canvey Island’s problem!

The lack of Affordable Homes has been created by weak local authorities, as is castle point council, that have accepted “viability” as an excuse by developers to negate their conditional agreements to supply affordable dwellings. In Castle Point this was demonstrated when the Kiln road developer was excused affordable housing provision by development committee consent, even though houses were being sold for £600,000 each!

The impression given now by cpbc spokesperson is that the rehoming of Thorney Bay residents will be Canvey Island’s responsibility. Fair enough except that the current London influx means the crisis may not be Housing but Services and Transport.

The Borough have accepted Taxes from Thorney Bay, quite obviously re-housing IS a Borough responsibility! Why are Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley areas allowed to cower down behind Canvey Island? Why isn’t the stagnant population growth and ageing population a problem in other parts of Castle Point?

How far we are expected to believe the enormous figure of £2,000,000,000 towards affordable housing will stretch?

There are 326 in England alone, with Castle point being one of the smallest. Supposing the money was distributed evenly, which is unlikely, cpbc may receive £6 million.

If a Flat could be supplied at £150,000, this would attract a subsidy out of the £6 million of approximately £41 per dwelling !

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Cpbc are energetic in attempting to receive their fair share of government grants, but their record in actually receiving the requested funds and infrastructure, such as the second access route for Canvey and the £24,500,000 on drainage improvements, appears less successful.

Until the Constraints, identified within the NPPF, are addressed fairly and evenly across the Borough, within the draft New Local Plan vers.III, then these appeals for Government Cash are quite correctly going elsewhere to more deserving causes. 

Perhaps cpbc members have cried Wolf, once too often!

Photo: Favim.com

Castle Point housing Growth issues not unique?

The number of affordable homes built in England in 2015-16 fell to its lowest level for 24 years, new data shows. There were 32,110 built, compared to 66,600 in the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This issue was highlighted, or should we say “low-lighted”, in Castle Point when the developers at the lucrative Kiln Road housing site were granted permission by the local authority to renege on the agreed delivery of affordable housing – claiming the level of delivery was unviable!

Further local housing problems will emerge with the slow reduction in local authority owned properties transferring into private ownership.

Castle Point Council explain that; “Most Council tenants are able to apply to purchase the property in which they live at a discounted price, this is called the “Right to Buy”.                                                                                                                                                                    If you are eligible to buy your home the level of discount you will receive will depend on your “qualifying period”, but the maximum discount you can receive is set annually at a nationally level. For 2014/2015 this is  £77,000.”

Thorney Bay Beach Camp, Canvey Island, Essex

copyright Jason Hawkes

Whilst we await the neighbouring local authorities responses to CPBC Local Plan Examination Inspector’s enquiry as to the levels of cooperation with castle point council in the plan-making process the pressure to develop mounts.

It appears the problem will attempt to be handled by increasing urban densities and the releasing of open green space.

The distribution of employment and development across the UK and the control of population growth appears not to be an attainable answer.

“It is projected that the number of households in the UK will reach 32.5 million by 2036, an increase of 4.8 million (17.2%) from 2016.13 As figure 3 illustrates, this household increase is hugely variable by region across the country. It is even more varied by district. For instance in Tower Hamlets the number of households is projected to increase by 51.8% between 2016 and 2036 compared to Barrow-in-Furness where the number of households is expected to decrease by 4.9% over the same period.

Local authorities often face different challenges when providing viable and appropriate land for development. In Sevenoaks, for example, 93% of land is classified as green belt which heavily restricts opportunities for development in the local area. Similarly in areas such as Oxford and Cambridge development is restricted by local authority boundaries. Although there is a need and ambition to build new housing, central measures aimed at driving new housebuilding are often irrelevant in these areas as there simply isn’t enough viable land to build on. Councils are often left with available plots that are too small to attract a larger developer’s investment. These smaller plots could potentially be used to bring smaller and more innovative developers in to local authority areas or even be used by the council themselves to build more homes. Land supply is, of course, one variable in the housebuilding process.

But housing markets do not begin and end where one local authority meets another, so a more strategic view is needed.”

source; Localis

 

 

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris and Inspector highlight Contradictions in our local housing policies.

Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris speaking in Parliament during a debate on Immigration expressed concerns that;

“In Castle Point we have a shortage of housing, a shortage of space for housing, and, most acutely, a serious shortage of affordable private rental accommodation. Hard working families must wait for accommodation, sometimes for months and months.

Evidence provided during the Jotmans Farm Appeal revealed that in Castle Point;

” Affordable housing supply over the period 2001 – 2014 was just 110 homes with no homes provided in 8 out of the 13 years during this period.  In 2014/15 a further 55 units were provided largely thanks to the Kiln Road site.

The average rate of affordable housing provision since 2001 is just 11.8 per year.
The latest available SHMA (the 2013 update) identifies that Castle Point requires 2,900 affordable homes over the period 2011 – 2031 – the equivalent of 145 homes per year or 73% of the emerging draft New Local Plan housing target. “

However during the considerations of a local Castle Point Planning Appeal on 4 detached chalet / houses in Hilton Road at the rear of Morrisons, in part of the old Silver Jubilee car park, the Inspector contacted Castle Point Council as he felt they may wish to take advantage in the change of Planning policy.

He recorded;

“Further to: the High Court’s judgement in West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2015); and the subsequent change to the national policy for seeking affordable housing obligations,

I have sought the views of the Council and the appellant as to whether this change has any relevance to the appeal development.”

LocalGovernmentLawyer website reported on the actual case and published;

The Planning Court has issued a key judgment on affordable housing requirements for small scale housing sites and vacant building credit.

The practical implications are of immediate effect to developers’ negotiations, writes Jenny Wigley.

In the wide ranging judgment of Holgate J in R (oao West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) [2015] EWHC 2222 (Admin) handed down on 31 July, the High Court has quashed the policy changes announced in Parliament on 28 November 2014 which directed decision makers not to impose affordable housing contributions or other tariff style infrastructure contributions on housing proposals for ten dwellings or fewer.

Allowing the claim by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council, the Court has quashed (i) the relevant parts of the National Planning Practice Guidance, (ii) the Secretary of State’s decision to adopt the new policy by way of Written Ministerial Statement and (iii) the Secretary of State’s decision on 10 February 2015 to maintain the policy.”

The Planning Inspector considering the Castle Point Council, Silver Jubilee / rear of Morrisons housing Appeal revealed that our local authority, when asked whether they would like to consider the possibility of requesting an Affordable Homes allowance;

” The Council has not responded and accordingly I can only take the Council’s position to be that the policy change has no bearing on this case.”

It would appear extravagant of our local authority to dismiss the opportunity to explore, under the Inspector’s guidance, the potential for some affordable housing provision, however small it may be.

The historical shortfall, the predicament of those in need of affordable housing as revealed by our MP and the causes, are not for us to point out.