Uncertainty over planning law may delay housebuilding
17th May 2016
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Uncertainty surrounding Government legislation is threatening to delay housebuilding in the Midlands, according to a planning expert.

The Court of Appeal has restored a policy which means developers building 10 or fewer houses no longer need to pay a contribution towards affordable housing in the area.

Unfair to affordable housing

The decision, made on Wednesday the 11th May, dismissed a case by West Berkshire District Council and Reading Borough Council, who had previously claimed the policy unfairly prevented affordable housing being built.

The council had won its case at the High Court in August 2015 which resulted in the policy being scrapped, meaning all developments since then - whether for fewer than 10 units or not - needed to include payment towards affordable housing.

But the Government’s Court of Appeal victory means the policy is now reinstated, so developments of 10 or less housing units are no longer liable for the payment - which can be up to £10,000.

Significant delay and uncertainty

David Brammer, Head of Planning Law at Shropshire-based Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, said the saga had caused significant delay and uncertainty for small-scale developments in Shropshire.

“The problem has been that some developers were waiting for the outcome of this appeal before going ahead with their plans,” he said.

“Clearly, the result of the appeal is good news for developers so they will now want to get on with things, but there is still an issue in that many councils remain uncertain about the legal situation.

“It is also possible that the case may be taken to the Supreme Court.

“It’s very important that councils up and down the country make it clear what their policy is as quickly as possible, otherwise this uncertainty will inevitably continue and cause further delays.”

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David Brammer from Lanyon Bowdler.

A messy situation

David said developers who had planning permission for schemes of 10 or fewer units since August 2015 might also be aggrieved about affordable housing contributions which had been paid already, with the policy justification for this now being questionable.

“There is still plenty of confusion over what has been something of a mess, quite frankly,” he added.

“It is essential that the Government is decisive and clears up these uncertainties so developers can get on with building new homes - which is what the Government consistently says it wants developers and communities to do, after all.”

For advice about planning issues, contact David at Lanyon Bowdler on 01743 280280 or email david.brammer@lblaw.co.uk

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