DC Casebook: Housing: New build - Fallback overrides affordable housing

The provision of 12 affordable units in a housing scheme in Berkshire has been declared acceptable after an inspector took the current economic climate into account.

The appeal site contained a four and five-storey building divided into 64 studio and single-bedroom flats. A lawful development certificate issued in 2008 confirmed that the residential use was lawful. Planning permission had also been granted for building alterations to provide 44 apartments and this did not require any affordable element.

The appellants estimated that existing use value was £1.5 million below the purchase price when they bought the site in 2007. They claimed that the downturn meant that only 23 per cent of the units could be affordable, assuming grant assistance was available, in order to give a 21 per cent return on the investment. Fifteen per cent of the units could be affordable if no grant aid were available, they asserted. The fallback position with no affordable housing would provide a return of approximately 20 per cent, they added.

The inspector accepted that the fallback position was a realistic option. Although the council's core strategy sought a much higher proportion of affordable housing, he decided that between 15 and 23 per cent was appropriate given the impact of the recession. A unilateral obligation made adequate provision for these options along with a financial contribution towards education, leisure and transport improvements, he noted.

DCS Number 100-068-735

Inspector Alan Wood; Inquiry.

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