Affordable housing contribution maintained given world class city centre location

An affordable housing contribution of over 15 million pounds associated with the construction of 165 units on a site overlooking the river Thames in central London was held to remain appropriate after an inspector reviewed the appellant's evidence that a contribution of only 11 million pounds was economically viable.

The site lay to the west of the Tower of London. A number of viability exercises had been undertaken by the appellants and the council. The differences related to three main areas: the relevant date for undertaking the valuation, the gross development value for the residential units and the value of the commercial element. The appellant stated that the relevant date was the date of the application in March 2015 and not at the time of the hearing.

The most up-to-date information was to be preferred, the inspector held, noting that the planning practice guidance referred to ‘current’ costs and ‘today’s market’. Estimating residential sales values was problematic because there were few developments which compared with the appeal site, occupying as it did a unique location with, in part, river-facing views. She preferred the pricing conclusions of the council’s consultants because they had been assessed on a unit by unit basis informed by asking prices across a range of recent transactions in the city and south bank of the river. Discounts had also been applied to those units which would not have river views. The appellant’s own estimate of gross development value between March and October 2015 also supported a greater affordable housing contribution, further narrowing the differences between what was already agreed and proposed. On this basis and assuming a yield of 6 per cent the inspector held that the previously agreed affordable housing contribution remained appropriate.

Inspector: Ava Wood; Hearing

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