Town and Country Planning
DCLG obtains permission from the Court of Appeal to appeal affordable homes threshold ruling

29 September 2015 | Planning Policy Updates

The government has been granted permission to appeal against a High Court ruling that forced ministers to remove a policy to exempt small developments from affordable housing contributions from national planning practice guidance.

In a statement today, a Department for Communities and Local Government (DGLC) spokesman said: \"We can confirm we have been granted permission to appeal against the judge?s decision on the West Berkshire and Reading court case?.

In July 2015, the High Court quashed the policy which excluded developments of ten homes or fewer or 1,000 sqm or less in floorspace, from the requirement to provide or contribute to affordable housing.

The ruling, which followed a legal challenge launched by Reading Borough Council and its neighbour West Berkshire District Council, prompted the removal of paragraphs from a section on planning obligations in the National Planning Policy Guidance related to the small development policy as well as the vacant building credit.

Mr Justice Holgate's judgment had said that the guidance contravened the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004's presumption in favour of the development plan, and that the consultation process had been unfair.

At the time, the DCLG said it would be seeking permission to appeal against the judge's decision, as it would have a \"disproportionate impact on smaller builders who are important in providing homes for local communities\".

The impact of the ruling were as follows;

  • Developers predicted that the removal of the guidance would lead to fewer homes being built as small firms respond by avoiding attempting to develop certain sites.
  • Problems were raised for a number of LPAs as a number of local plans contained affordable housing policies informed by the now ?revoked guidance.
  • Difficulties were also faced by councils that had incorporated the now deleted guidance into their draft Communty Infrastructure Lev charging schedules, typically opting to charge higher rates for smaller residential schemes because of higher levels of viability resulting from the affordable housing exemption

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