14 May Government wins’ appeal over affordable housing and small sites policy
In November 2014, housing minster Brandon Lewis announced in a written statement that for developments of 10 homes or fewer, local councils would not be able to impose affordable housing contributions through section 106 agreements.
West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council joined forces to challenge this proposal.
In July 2015, Mr Justice Holgate quashed the decision to adopt the new policy by way of written ministerial statement and the relevant parts of the relevant parts of the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG).
The challenge by the councils was upheld on four grounds:
- The policy was inconsistent with the statutory planning regime.
- The secretary of state had failed to take into account necessary material considerations.
- The secretary of state’s consultation upon the proposals was legally inadequate.
- The secretary of state had failed to properly assess the impact of the proposal upon persons with protect characteristics: Equally Act 2010 s.149.
The Court of Appeal on 11th May 2016 concluded, in a joint ruling from Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Treacy, with the Master of the Rolls agreeing, that all four grounds of appeal succeed and the appeal must be allowed.
Housing minister Brandon Lewis said the judgment “restores common sense to the system” and ensures that builders developing smaller sites don’t face costs that could stop them from building any homes at all.
The policy has now been placed back in the Planning Practice Guidance as of the 19th May 2016 and enables full weight to be afforded back to the Ministerial Statement, ensuring small sites are not required to deliver such requirements.