Wednesday 7 October 2015

Will Affordable Housing Position Statement address Planning Committee's concerns?

The Planning Committee of July 23rd (the meeting where the Minutes were mysteriously unpublished for weeks before pressure finally got them unearthed or created LINK ) considered a wide range of issues. The most prominent was a report on affordable housing which reflected concern over whether the Council was achieving a sufficient level of affordable housing in developments and in particular developers' practice of reducing the amount of affordable housing once development was underway through viability assessments. Essentially the assessments claim the developer is not making a sufficient return on the development and that the only way this can be addressed is by increasing the proportion of market price/rent housing in the scheme.

The next Planning Committee on October 14th will discuss a 'Brent Affordable Housing Position Statement' (see below) that if approved will be posted on the Brent Council website and made available to developers.

The accompanying Officer's Report by Stephen Weeks seems somewhat grudging at times over the necessity for such a statement.
Planning Committee is recommended to endorse the statement. It balances the Council's necessity to be clear about the priority it places on certain aspects in the delivery of affordable housing in association with new developments, against the need to not essentially repeat extensive existing robust policy and detailed advice that currently exists as a national, London and Brent level.
As such the Position Statement does not appear to make new policy but clarifies existing policy. It may fall short of the Planning Committee's expectations as exemplified by support at the July 23rd Meeting for Islington Council's Development Viability Supplementary Planning Document. The Brent report states:
...As such the production of a Supplementary Planning Document, essentially duplicating much of the existing relevant guidance against a background of resource constraint is recommended as inappropriate.
Finally the weight given to the Position Statement is limited:
The position statement can be regarded as a material planning consideration. However, the weight accorded to it will not be as strong as for instance Supplementary planning Documents, which have statutory status if adopted in accordance with regulations.
The background to the position statement is the stark fact that average housing prices in Brent are 12 times the average annual wage and that rents have risen by 60% over the last 5 years.  It seeks to maximise the amount of affordable housing through Section 106 obligations and states that 'the priority need in Brent is for affordable housing at rents well below market levels (social and affordable rented' with affordable home ownership and other forms of intermediate affordable housing a lesser priority although necessary for a 'balanced housing offer'.

This is contrary to the Conservative government's recently announced policy prioritising the building of ';affordable' housing for sale.

The preference for thorough viability assessments to be carried out at the pre-planning stage rather than later in the development cycle addresses some of the concerns raised at Planning Committee in July.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No Poor,
No Blacks,
No Irish,

This was the housing policy at Willesden Green Library Site.