go

West Berks and Reading councils in wait for verdict in affordable homes High Court case

Developers now exempt from affordable housing obligations for developments of 10 homes or less

Ellis Barker

Reporter:

Ellis Barker

Email:

ellis.barker@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886639

plans

A HIGH Court judge will give a delayed written decision on whether developers should be able to exclude affordable homes from developments of 10 dwellings or less.

It follows a case brought by West Berkshire Council and Reading Borough Council after changes to planning laws, announced in November, gave developers the right to provide no affordable homes in developments of 10 dwellings or less.

The Berkshire councils went up against communities and local government minister Eric Pickles and claimed the changes were "illogical" and "unjustified".

However, top barrister Richard Drabble QC, representing the secretary of state, told judge Mr Justice Holgate today (Wednesday, May 6) that the policy was a good one, adding that it would help small developers and encourage more small developments.

Because of the funding rules relating to affordable housing "there is a strong disincentive to pursue the release of small sites," he said. "The change to policy was a good thing, a good idea.

"You have a problem when small sites are not readily available and small developers are in decline."

However the council's barrister David Forsdick QC claimed that the policy changes would squeeze councils' budgets and reduce the number of affordable homes that could be built.

He added that the policy was unnecessary because there were rules already in place that stop the costs of affordable housing provisions from making small developments unviable.

He quoted statistics, saying that more than 20% of housing development in England and Wales are built on plots of ten houses or less.

The new policy, he said, would could cost more than £690 million a year, the equivalent of 2,500 houses.

The complexity and importance of the case saw the judge reserve judgment and it will instead be given in writing at a date not yet confirmed.

When the case ends the judge is expected to reserve his judgment and give it in writing later.

 

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Newbury Weekly News

Characters left: 1000

Article comments

  • banksie

    14/05/2015 - 22:10

    We need to encourage small developers to build, they have already suffered as the threshold for affordable in the last 3 years has gone from 24 to 9 UNITS , this is harsh and it discourages the smaller builds, where was their right to challenge? Why is it that councils believe they can challenge government and waste even more of their hard earned public monies, cutting it down to 9 units discourages any profit, and I believe looking constantly at various sites of this size, 10 is a fair number and the crucial balance. We need to open our arms to private investment and business for the economy to grow and to provide our much needed housing stock, why make it more difficult for small builders to provide? The more fair profit a small builder makes the more chance they have of building on more sites, its a snowball effect. The uk should be encouraging and helping all levels of house builders as much as possible, as we don't want to forget the figures relating to national housing shortage!

    Reply

News

Fire Station to be a community hub
All Districts

Fire Station to be a community hub

Police desk and meeting room included in the plans for Church Street building

 
What makes people in West Berkshire so happy?
News

What makes people in West Berkshire so happy?

New statistics reveal West Berkshire residents are the most satisfied in the county

1comment

 
News

Turnpike motorbike blaze suspected arson

 
News

Shaw residents to forge links with Ghanaian village