Affordable housing: Housing Minister promises to, er, look into things!!!

Owl says: Since when did “addressing issues” and “looking into measures” ever count for ANYTHING? More meaningless claptrap.

“In his first major speech as housing, communities and local government secretary today, Brokenshire said communities felt let down when developers reneged on pledges to build essential local infrastructure or affordable housing.

“We’re addressing these issues head on through our consultation into reforming developer contributions,” he said in his speech to think-tank Policy Exchange.

“These will ensure that developers are left in no doubt about what’s expected of them. Local authorities will hold them to account.” …

Brokenshire added that, in future, government would require much more transparency from developers on the pace and timing of delivery. “We’re currently looking at measures to make this reporting a compulsory requirement.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/07/brokenshire-issues-warning-developers-avoiding-planning-obligations

Yet another loophole cuts affordable housing

Turning offices into flats does not require planning permission so no Section 106 payments towards affordable housing:

“Lack of investment and deregulation of planning were the main reasons given for hampering councils’ ability to help provide the number of homes needed in the UK, the report published by the not-for-profit Association for Public Service Excellence found.

Of 141 UK councils surveyed, 63% described the need for affordable housing as ‘severe’ while 35% describe their need as ‘moderate’.

Seventy per cent of 124 councils in England noted an increase in statutory homelessness in the last year, the survey revealed. It was researched and written by the campaigning organisation the Town and Country Planning Association on behalf of APSE and released last week.

Paul O’Brien, chief executive of APSE, said: “Investment in high quality social housing can also save public funds, such as through reducing poor physical and mental health outcomes that are currently experienced by those living in an unstable private rented sector or those in temporary accommodation.”

Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive added: “We are not providing anywhere near enough genuinely affordable homes and homelessness is rising.

“Our latest research highlights that councils want to provide more affordable housing for their local communities, but their ability to do so is being undermined by planning deregulation.”

The report noted that while relaxing planning regulations allowing developers to convert offices into homes without the need for full planning permission had created more accommodation it had made it more difficult for councils to secure ‘affordable properties’. If development plans go through the full planning process local authorities can secure ‘affordable homes’ through section 106.

“Relaxing permitted development has led to tens of thousands of new homes being created without having to get full planning permission and this means that councils are unable to secure a contribution to affordable housing from the developer”, Henderson said.

The research by the TCPA showed that one in three councils in England believed these changes to permitted development had a negative impact on the delivery of affordable homes.

The report called on the change to be reversed and for planning powers to be given back to local authorities allowing them to make decisions to “reflect local circumstances”.

O’Brien said the report showed that insecure private rented sector tenancies had contributed to the rise in homelessness.

He said local authorities needed to bring “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”.

The government must be “bold and ambitious in challenging the shortfall of housing for hose in the most need in society,” O’Brien added.

It must also help councils return to their historic role as a provider of homes, he urged.

APSE is a non-profit membership organisation for local government officers.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2018/05/local-authorities-warn-severe-need-more-affordable-homes

Parish council successfully overturns officer “delegated authority” decision

“A parish council recently enjoyed success in a legal challenge over a purported exercise of delegated authority. Meyric Lewis explains how.

Newton Longville Parish Council has secured a quashing order by consent in their judicial review challenge to a grant of planning permission by Aylesbury Vale District Council under purported exercise of delegated authority.

District Council members resolved to grant planning permission for residential development “delegated to officers… subject to such conditions as are considered appropriate and to include a condition requiring that a reserved matters application be made within 18 months of the date of permission and that any permission arising from that application be implemented within 18 months”.

In exercising their delegated authority, officers took the view that there was insufficient justification for shortening the period for applying for reserved matters and for requiring implementation within 18 months. But that matter was neither raised with members nor addressed in the delegated report published by the Council.

In committee, members had wished to impose these short timeframes because they were concerned about the length of time that the site had remained undeveloped notwithstanding the existence of planning permission granted in 2007 and then renewed in 2011 and so they wished to encourage the building out of the site more swiftly than if longer timeframes were allowed.

Permission to apply for judicial review was granted by the High Court on the ground that the decision went beyond the terms of the delegated authority because it conflicted with the confined terms of the members’ resolution.

Permission was also granted on a ground concerning the related section 106 agreement and in respect of officers’ failure to provide adequate reasons, as required by under reg. 7 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, in that they did not address the matters relied on as justifying a departure from the terms of the members’ resolution in the delegated report.

The District Council and Interested Party have now signed a consent order submitting to judgment on all grounds.

Significant points to note on the case are that:

The parish council’s grounds distinguished Ouseley J’s decision on implied delegated authority in R (Couves) v. Gravesham BC [2015] EWHC 504 (Admin) because of the specific requirements as to time frames stipulated by members, see Couves at 47

It highlights the importance of officers going back to the terms of any resolution delegating authority to them and ensuring that their proposed action complies with its terms.

Developers and potential challengers will be astute to perform the exercise under (2) to see if a challenge can be mounted.

So there are practical consequences for officers, similar to when they receive an engrossment of a section 106, that they check the terms of what was resolved/agreed before issuing a formal grant of permission.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?view=article&catid=63%3Aplanning-articles&id=35128%3Aexercising-delegated-authority-in-planning&format=pdf&option=com_content&Itemid=31

“Councils sit on £375m earmarked for affordable housing”

“Local councils in England are sitting on hundreds of millions of pounds of money designated for affordable housing.

A total of £375m is available, £100m of which has not even been earmarked for a specific project. This is despite a survey last year for the Town and Country Planning Association showing that 98% of councils described their need for affordable homes as either “severe” or “moderate”.

The cash has been accumulated under so-called section 106 agreements by which builders and developers give a council a ringfenced amount of money instead of building affordable homes within a development themselves.

James Prestwich, the head of policy at the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said it confirmed the federation’s view that section 106 was flawed. “Affordable housing should be delivered within new developments, rather than developers simply funding its delivery elsewhere,” he said. “This would guarantee that affordable housing will be built alongside other homes.”

Some of the worst offenders shown up by research carried out by the Huffington Post are in London and the south-east. The housing minister Dominic Raab’s own local council, Elmbridge in Surrey, has £8m waiting to be invested.

Raab was criticised this month after he blamed high levels of immigration for increasing house prices. A review by the statistics watchdog found that his department had used an outdated statistical method to calculate the causes of housing pressure and their relationship with house prices.

The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has yet to find new homes for two-thirds of the Grenfell survivors and other families affected by the disaster, has £21m of dedicated reserves. It says £19m has been set aside for Grenfell families.

Two Labour-held councils also in London, Southwark and Camden, between them have more than £90m that could be spent on affordable homes. Altogether, just 14 councils account for two-thirds of the unspent cash.

Rough sleeping in London has risen by at least 18% over the past year; in England as a whole, it is up 15%. Although a shortage of affordable homes is only one of many causes that explains the continuous rise over the past seven years, its consequences have a series of knock-on effects.

A spokesman for Southwark said the money it had was already allocated and the projects for which it was intended would be completed within the next five years.

Camden has set up a new scheme for affordable home building, the community investment programme, which is intended to create 1,400 affordable homes over 15 years.

Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics, said nearly a decade of cuts had left council capacity to manage big projects “hollowed out”.

“Average cuts of between 25% and 30% over eight years and the way they have protected children’s and adult social care services have led to bigger cuts in departments like housing and planning. There is no question that their capacity to handle major projects has been eroded.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/apr/22/councils-sit-on-375m-earmarked-for-affordable-housing

“Parish [council] wins permission for judicial review over decision under delegated authority”

“A parish council has been granted permission to apply for judicial review in their challenge to a grant of planning permission by a district council under purported exercise of delegated authority, barristers’ chambers Francis Taylor Building (FTB) has reported.

FTB, whose Meyric Lewis is acting for Newton Longville Parish Council, said members at Aylesbury Vale District Council had resolved to grant planning permission for residential development “delegated to officers… subject to such conditions as are considered appropriate and to include a condition requiring that a reserved matters application be made within 18 months of the date of permission and that any permission arising from that application be implemented within 18 months”.

The set said that in exercising their delegated authority, officers took the view that there was insufficient justification for shortening the period for applying for reserved matters and for requiring implementation within 18 months. “But that matter was neither raised with members nor addressed in the delegated report published by the Council.”
FTB added that in committee, members had wished to impose these short timeframes “because they were concerned about the length of time that the site had remained undeveloped notwithstanding the existence of planning permission granted in 2007 and then renewed in 2011 and so they wished to encourage the building out of the site more swiftly than if longer timeframes were allowed”.

The set said permission to apply for judicial review had been granted by the High Court on the ground that the decision went beyond the terms of the delegated authority because it conflicted with the confined terms of the members’ resolution.

Permission was also granted on a ground concerning the related section 106 agreement and in respect of officers’ failure to provide adequate reasons, as required by under reg. 7 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, in that they did not address the matters relied on as justifying a departure from the terms of the members’ resolution in the delegated report.

The parish council has made representations based on the terms of the judge’s grant of permission to see if a full hearing can be avoided, FTB said.

Meyric Lewis is instructed by Bob McGeady of Ashtons KCJ.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php

How to stop developers using the “viability assessment” loophole to avoid building affordable housing

Excellent report on the current disgraceful situation and what needs to be done about it. Part of the conclusion of the 38 page report of November 2017 which should be required reading for all council planning officers:

“… On its own, Section 106 will never meet the country’s need for new affordable housing supply. But the current use and abuse of viability assessments means that we are getting less affordable housing out of private developments than we were before and during the crash, and certainly less than we could.

Flexibility in the viability system has driven down affordable housing provision at the expense of land price inflation, essentially making development more expensive.

By amending the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance to close the viability loophole, we can maximise developer contributions to affordable housing, with knock-on positive effects for overall housing supply, build out rates and community support for new housing.

The government is already consulting on the changes needed to turn affordable housing policies into cast iron pledges. It is now vital that they follow through on these plans.”

https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1434439/2017.11.01_Slipping_through_the_loophole.pdf