Under the proposal, backed by around 40 developers and this week endorsed by Barratt Developments, if developers contribute at least 50% of affordable housing on smaller brownfield sites under one-hectare, local authorities should vote in favour of the development, with sites not requiring viability testing.
Hugo Owen, marketing and communications executive at Pocket Living, said: “The capacity is there, but the planning system isn’t suited to ensure some of the smaller development sites come forward.
“This policy is ready to go. It will not cost HM Treasury a penny and will deliver on several government’s aims, whether it’s levelling up, affordable housing or helping communities. Politically, it’s a win-win.”
Jamie Ratcliff, executive director of people, partnerships and sustainability at Network Homes, supported the proposal, claiming development on smaller sites “is essential to meeting England’s housing need”.
He added: “Making it easier to build on smaller sites wouldn’t just deliver more homes, but would be of particular benefit to smaller developers, increasing competition and creating better outcomes on numbers and quality.”
William Scoular, head of private client lending at Investec Real Estate, said: “Encouraging development on suitable brownfield sites is a pragmatic and effective measure to provide much needed affordable homes.
“SME housebuilders are integral to this endeavour and with Pocket Living leading the charge, we hope government will listen to the industry’s calls for a more supportive planning policy.”
However, founder of SME residential development lender Hilltop Credit Partners Paul Oberschneider warned that although the proposal was “a step in the right direction”, delivering 50% affordable housing on smaller sites could be economically challenging.
“It depends on what you describe as affordable. If you consider various parties in a transaction, from developer to buyer, everyone has to make money. For that to work, 50% affordability makes it difficult to do.”
The consultation on proposed changes to the NPPF closed on 2 March and the government is expected to publish its response and any revisions to the NPPF this spring.
Source: Property Week