Tuesday, 06 May 2014 07:57

Threat to affordable rural homes

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Threat to affordable rural homes

GOVERNMENT proposals threaten to reduce the delivery of much-needed affordable housing in the countryside.

The warning was issued by the Rural Services Network in response to a government consultation on a proposed 10-unit threshold for section 106 affordable housing contributions.

"From a rural perspective, this is a hugely significant issue," said the network's response to the consultation.

Implementing the 10-unit threshold would "significantly impact on the delivery of much needed affordable homes in rural communities," it added.

"Rural affordable homes are difficult to deliver for a variety of reasons and it is critical that existing routes to deliver such homes are not cut off," said the network.

A large proportion of the delivery of affordable housing in communities of less than 3,000 population was through section 106 sites that are 10 units or less, it added.

In the 2008/11 Affordable Housing Programme, for example, 75% of rural delivery was through this route. Removing this potential delivery would have a potentially massive impact on delivery.

In addition, the section 106 route had provided an increasingly important mechanism to lever in funding to ensure that delivery still took place as public resources had reduced.

"Introducing the threshold will reduce the provision of affordable homes in rural areas," the network warned.

The viability of specific developments could be assessed in relation to each application and if the provision of affordable homed creates a viability problem this could be assessed at that time.

But a variety of models of affordable homes existed.

Even where one model proved to be unviable there may well be alternative models which did not lead to unviability of the scheme overall.

Introducing the threshold would inevitably increase reliance on rural exception sites which entailed high up-front costs and involved sometimes unpredictable delivery, said the network.

The full consultation response can be downloaded here.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Derrick Dyas)

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    What your report does not make clear, but the RSN response does, is that with Section 106 sites the "affordable" housing does not actually need to be provided on site. Financial contributions can be made in lieu of on site provision - with that contribution pooled with others to create a pot of money that is then used to fund "affordable" housing outside of the HCA programme.
    Implementing a 10 unit threshold is a sop to developers who will, no doubt, bring forward sites of 9 dwellings only.

    from Solihull, West Midlands, UK
  • Guest (Virginia Minihan)

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    I have just found out that, due to a loophole in the planning regulations, Story Homes who have recently been given planning permission to build 48 homes and 14 affordable homes in the Cumbrian village of Lazonby, will only be actually building 8 affordable homes.

    from Lazonby, Penrith, Cumbria CA10, UK

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