Northern Ireland affordable homes contributions consultation launched

Plans that would require developers in Northern Ireland to provide a proportion of newly proposed housing developments over a certain threshold as affordable housing have been put out for consultation.

Stormont: affordable housing consultation published
Stormont: affordable housing consultation published

Full details are set out in two separate public consultations: the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) Developer Contributions for Affordable Housing and the Department of Environment’s (DOE) Draft Planning Policy Statement 22 (PPS22) Affordable Housing.

According to the DSD, under the proposals, developers seeking planning permission for schemes over a certain threshold (proposed to be five units or more) would be required to make a contribution for affordable housing.

"The level of agreed contribution can be monitored, adjusted and reviewed in line with future Housing Need Assessments," it said.

However, the DSD added that it recognises that developers would need consistency and clarity to be able to calculate with confidence what contribution they would be asked to make.

"This may be achievable by setting a regional target level of contribution - in the absence of setting such a target, for example a minimum 20 per cent, it may be difficult to achieve the affordable housing required to address housing need in Northern Ireland," it said.

It added that the proportion of affordable housing required would also have to be economically viable.

The DSD consultation document said: "It is proposed that if the developer can make a profit of 15 per cent, over the whole development (market housing and the affordable element), the development can be deemed viable for scheme contribution. This is in line with practice elsewhere."

The DOE added that developer contributions would either be in the form of affordable housing units, and/or commuted sums.

It said the exact level and mix of appropriate contribution would be determined by a specialist Affordable Housing Team.

Social development minister Nelson McCausland said existing developer contribution schemes in Great Britain and the republic of Ireland have "proven successful in providing additional housing units".

"It provides an excellent route to allow government to deliver housing to match unmet need," he said.

Both consultations close on 26 August 2014.

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