The past 9 months has seen the Government introduce 2 major changes to its policy on Section 106 affordable housing requirements which form part of its attempt to incentivise the redevelopment of brownfield sites : Firstly it has raised the threshold for requiring affordable housing and other S106 requirements to 10 or more residential units; and secondly, it has introduced the Vacant Building Credit to allow existing vacant floorspace to be excluded from affordable housing requirements.

So how are Local Planning Authorities choosing to apply these changes in practice? Or more specifically, can Local Planning Authorities choose to ignore the new affordable housing/S106 thresholds and the VBC ?

The Government has made it clear that these changes constitute national planning policy (rather than mere guidance) and as such Local Planning Authorities must take this national policy into account when deciding planning applications. It is however up to each Local Authority to decide how much weight to give to it when weighing against its local plan policies.

A High Court judgment on this issue is eagerly awaited which will hopefully provide some clarity on how the changes should be applied going forward. (R on the Application of West Berkshire District Council v Department for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/76/2015)

For further information please contact Ruth Harding in the Planning Team