Affordable housing thresholds adopted by local planning authorities as an interim measure, whilst they are working on emerging Local Plans, could now be dismissed after Mr Justice Jay handed down his decision in Skipton Properties vs. Craven District Council.
Craven District Council had its interim guidance on affordable housing in new developments quashed after the Judge ruled that the council’s requirement for financial contributions to be made on developments of six to ten dwellings, containing less than 40% affordable housing, was to be considered a policy as apposed to just guidance. As a result, it was ruled that this requirement could not be enforced, as it had not been subject to formal consultation and review.
Craven District Council expressed their frustration with the ruling and discussed the potential implications for other local planning authorities;
“We are very disappointed with the outcome of the case which will have implications for many other local authorities… The judge made it clear that the legislation in this area is confusing and many other local authorities have interpreted it as we did. This judgement makes it all the more important that we continue with our preparation of the Local Plan so that we have robust policies in place relating to affordable housing provision.”
The council is expected to publish its draft Local Plan in Summer 2017, but in the intervening time must now rely on National Planning Practice Guidance for its affordable housing policy, which makes no affordable housing provisions for developments of less than 10 homes outside of specially designated areas.
In his closing remarks, Mr Justice Jay said he was “not oblivious to the practical difficulties” planning departments face from frequent changes to national legislation, but said they should focus on “timeous preparation” of Local Plans.