Application held invalid without contribution

A developer's failure to offer an affordable housing contribution has persuaded an inspector that a proposal for a two-bed house in north London was invalid.

The council's core strategy required contributions for off-site affordable housing with developments of up to nine dwellings. A supplementary planning document required applicants to submit either a draft unilateral undertaking providing a contribution, or an assessment showing that such a contribution would render the project unviable.

The inspector noted that the revised Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) of November last year, waiving the need for affordable housing contributions on projects of ten dwellings or fewer, was quashed by the High Court this August. Although its ruling is due to be considered by the Court of Appeal in March, he found that its interpretation remained in force until then.

The council's policies clearly set out a justification for seeking affordable housing contributions, he decided. As the appellant had failed to submit an undertaking with the application, he ruled that it was not valid and so the applicant had no right of appeal.

Inspector: David Murray; Written representations

Comment: Council requirements for legal obligations offering affordable housing payments to be submitted at application stage, before developers can be sure that their proposal will find favour with the planning authority, mean potentially wasted time and expense for small-scale applicants. In this case, however, the applicant had obtained permission for a similar development last year - before the PPG waiver came into force - accompanied by an undertaking making £25,000 available towards off-site affordable housing provision. The inspector remarked that the new application had to be seen in the light of the applicant wishing to secure the project already permitted without making any such contribution.

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