Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

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3. Policy Context

National Policy

3.1 The revised NPPF 2021 provides the national policy context for the provision of housing, this is further supported by Planning Practice Guidance (PPG). The relevant sections of the PPG include those that relate to First Homes, Housing Needs of Different Groups and Planning Obligations. The PPG is an on-line resource and is updated as required.

3.2 Chapter 5 of the NPPF 'delivering a sufficient supply of homes' outlines the government objective of boosting the supply of homes, this includes ensuring the needs of groups with specific housing requirements are addressed.

3.3 Paragraph 62 states that "the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community should be addressed and reflected in planning policies (including but not limited to, those who require affordable housing, families with children, older people, students, people with disabilities, service families, travellers, people who rent their homes and people wishing to commission or build their own homes)."

3.4 Paragraph 63 outlines that where a need for affordable housing is identified, planning policies should specify the type of affordable housing required (as outlined by the definitions shown in Annex 2 of the NPPF and replicated in Chapter 2 of this SPD) and expect it to be met on site unless:

  • Off-site provision or appropriate financial contribution in lieu can be robustly justified; and
  • The agreed approach contributes to the objective of creating mixed and balanced communities.

3.5 The provision of affordable housing can only be sought for major developments, unless in designated rural areas (planning policies can provide a threshold). Where vacant buildings are being reused or redeveloped, affordable housing contributions should be proportionate (paragraph 64 of NPPF). Footnote 30 clarifies that this contribution should be equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of the existing buildings. This does not apply to vacant buildings which have been abandoned.

3.6 Paragraph 65 states that major development involving the provision of housing, should expect at least 10% of the total number of homes to be available for affordable home ownership, unless this would exceed the level of affordable housing requirement in the area or significantly prejudice the ability to meet the identified affordable housing needs of specific groups. Exemptions to this 10% requirement should be made where the development proposes:

  • Solely Build to Rent homes;
  • Specialist accommodation for groups of people with specific needs;
  • Developed by people who wish to build/commission their own homes; or
  • Exclusively for affordable housing, an entry level exception site or a rural exception site.

3.7 Paragraph 78 also advises that a Rural Exceptions Site policy may be appropriate to provide for the local housing needs of rural communities.

First Homes

3.8 The Government introduced a new initiative known as First Homes via a Written Ministerial Statement and updates to the PPG with affect from 28 June 2021.

3.9 First Homes are a specific type of discounted market sale housing. The national standards for a First Home are that:

  1. It must be discounted by a minimum of 30% against the market value;
  2. After the discount has been applied, the first sale must be no higher than £250,000 (or £420,000 in Greater London); and
  3. The home is sold to a person who meets the First Home eligibility criteria.

3.10 First Homes are considered to meet the definition of 'affordable housing' for planning purposes and will form part of developer contributions to meet the local planning authority's affordable housing policy requirement.

3.11 Transitional arrangements are in place which mean that the First Home policy requirements would not apply to Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans if submitted for examination before 28 June 2021.

3.12 As the Colchester Local Plan was submitted for examination during the transitional period in October 2017, it was not required to reflect the First Homes policy.

3.13 As set out in the Written Ministerial Statement (and PPG Paragraph: 019, Reference ID: 70-019-20210524), where Local and Neighbourhood Plans are adopted under the transitional arrangements, the First Homes requirements will not need to be applied when considering planning applications in the Plan area until the First Home requirements are introduced through a Local Plan update or review.

3.14 As the Colchester Local Plan was examined under the transitional arrangements for Local Plans, the transitional arrangements for decision making will also apply. Therefore, planning applications in Colchester, will not be required to include First Homes until such time as the Local Plan is updated. This will also apply for entry level exception sites.

Colchester Local Plan

3.15 Colchester Borough Council has a unique situation with regard to plan making. The Council worked in collaboration with Braintree and Tendring District Councils on strategic cross boundary issues for North Essex. This resulted in a strategic Section One of the Local Plan which is shared by all three Local Planning Authorities. This was Adopted by Colchester Borough Council on 2February 2001.

3.16 Section Two of each authorities Local Plan includes individual local authority policies and allocations. The Colchester Local Plan Section 2 was adopted on 4 July 2022.

3.17 The Colchester Local Plan Section 2 informs development in the Borough over the period 2017 to 2033 and includes new housing allocations to meet the predicted growth of the Borough over that period.

3.18 Policy DM8 – Affordable Housing, provides guidance on the local requirement for affordable housing, including a 30% affordable housing provision on sites of 10 or more dwellings (major development) in urban areas and above 5 units in designated rural areas. This reflects the updated Strategic Housing Market Assessment and evidence on the overall quantum of housing requirements contained in the Objectively Assessed Housing Need Study. The Policy was also informed by viability work. Further detail is contained in Chapter 4 below.

3.19 A Full extract of Policy DM8 can be found in Appendix B.

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