30,000 affordable homes would have been lost in five years if proposed planning reforms were in place

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30,000 affordable homes would have been lost in five years if proposed planning reforms were in place

Pic: Shot 60 (Salford Energy House, Flickr Creative Comms)

Some 30,000 affordable homes would not have been built in the last five years if the new planning proposals fro the Government had been accepted, according to the Local Government Association. The government sets out plans for a new regime in a white paper (Planning for the Future) which includes raising the ‘small sites threshold’ for developers who are exempt from paying ‘section 106 payments’ from developments of 10 units to 40-50 units. Section 106 payments are required to obtain planning permission and go towards local infrastructure including affordable housing and schools.

The housing charity Shelter also criticised the Government’s proposals. ‘Section 106 agreements between developers and councils are tragically one of the only ways we get social homes built these days, due to a lack of direct government investment’, its chief executive Polly Neate has said. A 12-week consultation period over the while paper closes at the end of this month on October 29. The National Housing Federation have said that the proposed replacement of Section 106, which currently delivers about half of all new affordable homes, had ‘serious implications for the amount of affordable homes housing associations can build’.

The Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, David Renard, who is the Conservative leader of Swindon borough bouncil, said the proposals were ‘of huge concern’. ‘We need to build homes that are affordable to local people and help to reduce homelessness, rather than contributing additional funds to developers’ and landowners’ profits,’ he told the Guardian. ‘These current proposals risk allowing developers to game the system by only putting forward schemes for fewer than 40 or 50 homes, and so avoid building any affordable homes at all.’

The government defines affordable housing as ‘social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to specified eligible households who needs are not met by the market’. Affordable rent is up to 80% of market rent. As of the April 2019, there were 1.16 million households on local authority waiting lists whilst it has been reported that more than 93% of family homes are unaffordable to local housing allowance claimants1. Local housing allowance are the rates used to work out how much universal credit a tenant is entitled to when renting from a private landlord. It has been estimated by Shelter that demolitions and sales have led to nearly 60,000 fewer social rented homes in England than a decade ago (see here).

According to research completed by Open Democracy, the Conservative party has received more than £11 million in donations from some of the UK’s property developers and construction businesses since Boris Johnson became prime minister.