William Eichler 12 May 2016

Court upholds Whitehall’s affordable housing contributions plans

A court has ruled in favour of the Government’s small sites affordable housing contributions policy.

The policy was introduced in November 2014 and was designed to ensure the burden of affordable housing contributions did not fall on small-scale developers, and custom- and self-builders.

It created a national threshold of ten units or fewer beneath which affordable housing contributions should not be sought.

West Berkshire District and Reading Borough councils brought legal proceedings against the Government to challenge the policy, but the Court of Appeal ruled against them.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis, who described the court case as ‘a total waste of taxpayers’ money’, welcomed the decision.

Mr Lewis said: ‘We’re committed to building more homes, including record numbers of affordable homes – key to this is removing unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy that prevents builders getting on sites in the first place.

‘Today’s judgment by the Court of Appeal restores common sense to the system, and ensures that those builders developing smaller sites – including self-builders - don’t face costs that could stop them from building any homes at all.

‘This will now mean that builders developing sites of fewer than 10 homes will no longer have to make an affordable homes contribution that should instead fall to those building much larger developments.’

‘This case was a total waste of taxpayers’ money and the uncertainty the case created amongst housebuilders stalled new development from coming through,’ he added.

Responding to the court’s decision, a spokesperson for the councils said: ‘West Berkshire and Reading Council’s are naturally disappointed by this result.

‘We are reviewing this verdict and currently considering our options as a matter of priority with regard to appeal. Until such time as we have determined how we intend to proceed, it would not be appropriate to comment further.’

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