Restricting size of property not a mechanism to ensure affordable housing

The discharging of a planning obligation restricting the size of a new dwelling in open countryside in Powys was allowed as it was deemed to no longer serve a useful purpose.

The planning obligation was imposed in 2004 to restrict the size of the dwelling, a three-bedroom property with integral garage, to a gross floor space of 130 square metres. This was alongside other obligations which restricted the occupation of the dwelling to the appellant and, thereafter, to persons with a local connection. However, in 2014, the council varied the original agreement to omit the latter two obligations at the property completely. The council argued their intention when originally granting permission for the dwelling was that it would contribute to the supply of affordable housing in the area and the remaining obligation ensured that through restricting the size of the building. The council argued it was up to the appellant to prove that the dwelling was no longer required as an affordable one. 

But the inspector agreed with the appellant that the removal of the other two obligations meant there was no restriction on the occupancy of the dwelling any more and no means of restricting its resale price. He noted Planning Policy Wales defined an affordable house as one subject to a mechanism that ensured that it was accessible to those who cannot afford market housing. In the absence of such a mechanism the property was therefore, in his view, an open market dwelling. Whilst the inspector acknowledged that the restriction on the size of the dwelling influenced its market value that did not, on its own, ensure its accessibility. Moreover, the size of the dwelling and the plot materially exceeded the limits set out in the council’s own adopted supplementary planning guidance on affordable housing, as evidenced through a recent valuation. The inspector concluded the obligation did not facilitate the property’s potential contribution to the supply of affordable housing and was therefore not necessary. 

Inspector: Hywel Wyn Jones; Written representations

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