April 20, 2022 11.16 am

New planning rules could give affordable homes powers to councils

Authorities however say its too early to tell

A major shake-up of planning rules could remove a requirement for developers to build affordable homes, but place the power in the hands of local councils, according to national media.

However, councils have said it is too early to say how the proposals could affect planning policy going forward.

According to reports in national media such as The Times and Telegraph  the government’s Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove is reportedly going to axe Section 106 rules which force companies to build affordable homes on their developments among other funding obligations, instead ordering them to pay into an infrastructure fund overseen by local authorities.

It is hoped the move will increase the number of affordable homes being built, by giving councils greater control of the funding.

Affordable Homes are considered as those which can be run by housing associations, sold through shared ownership schemes or offered for sale or rent at below market rate.

Currently around 10% of homes on major developments should be classed as affordable, however, developers can argue viability to get the number reduced or removed, or put the homes into different phases.

The papers report that Mr Gove has already held talks with industry leaders and is hoping to include the proposals in the Queen’s Speech next month prior to a formal consultation.

It is expected around £7billion could be raised nationally, however, the papers say it isn’t clear yet whether the funding would be ring-fenced for housing or could be used towards other infrastructure projects such as roads or schools.

Local authorities in Lincolnshire told Local Democracy Reporters it was too early to comment on the plans.

A spokesperson for City of Lincoln Council said: “There is currently not enough information available on the proposals for us to comment on how this may affect the city.

“We await the official announcement and the further detail that will accompany it.”

A West Lindsey District Council spokesman added: “It is too early for any conclusions to be drawn on the implications of the reported proposed changes to s106 agreements.

“The Government is likely to consult on the proposals and at that point further detail will be provided to be considered and responded to by all, before any final decisions on changes are made to policy and legislation.”

There have already been some doubts expressed around the scheme, however, with the Telegraph reporting concerns that affordable housing might be built away from developments which are funding it.

There are also concerns about the quality of housing as well as the onus being placed on local authorities.