United Trust Bank comments on the Court of Appeal decision on affordable housing obligations on developments

In a judgement issued on Wednesday 11th May 2016, the Court of Appeal reinstated Government policy relieving developers from affordable housing obligations on small development sites. Noel Meredith, Executive Director of United Trust Bank, comments:

“The Court of Appeal’s judgement overturning a High Court ruling and reinstating the Government’s previous guidance to local authorities is very good news for smaller developers, the Government, and anyone affected by the UK’s housing shortage.

“In November 2014, the Government issued a ministerial statement advising local authorities that affordable housing should not be sought on developments of ten units or 1,000 sq m or less and that where a vacant building is brought back into use or demolished for redevelopment, local authorities should provide a “credit” equivalent to the floor space of the vacant building to be set against affordable housing contributions. That guidance was overruled by the High Court last summer and the ruling had a material impact on the viability of many smaller development sites because of the additional burden developers faced of meeting the costs of affordable housing obligations.

“By reinstating the Government’s sensible guidance on this matter, the Court of Appeal will bring many smaller developments previously mothballed back into play and encourage smaller developers to once again to see small sites as good and viable opportunities. Not only does this decision help smaller developers, it will also help the Government to meet its challenging target of building 1 million new homes by 2020 and everyone affected by the housing shortage.

“Although local authorities will still be able to depart from the Government’s advice where they consider that there are exceptional circumstances which dictate that affordable housing should be part of the scheme, these cases will make up a low proportion of the large number of smaller, often brownfield sites taken on by SME developers. The UK’s housing shortage will not be tackled by large volume builders alone, and SME developers need more encouragement to build on small sites, not more barriers.

“United Trust Bank is a keen supporter of SME developers and have funded a great number of these projects. We are always happy to speak to experienced developers looking to fund these types of schemes.”