BROMLEY TO GET TOUGH WITH DEVELOPERS ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING (Bromley housing strategy – four)

Housing officers in  Bromley will be expected to “robustly challenge” viability assessments put forward by developers who claim they cannot put affordable housing into any of their schemes, says the report.

Bromley’s Local Plan stipulates that, in schemes of over 11 units, or where the residential floor space is more than 1000 square metres, 35pc of the units should be affordable. (“When an applicant proposes a level below the 35 per cent [affordable housing] or the tenure mix is not policy compliant, the council will require evidence within a financial viability appraisal that will be independently assessed.” Bromley Local Plan, 2019)

But it is less profitable for developers to build affordable homes, so, when assessing the viability of their schemes, they often argue that the requirement to do so should be reduced, says the report.

Many of the sites identified in Bromley for residential development are small, and suitable only for developments of ten or less units. These schemes do not meet the threshold for a developer contribution towards affordable housing.

The report says:

  • House prices have risen dramatically in Bromley over the last decade. In 2008, the average cost of a home was £284,105. By 2018, it was £440,410, an increase of 55pc.
  • The Local Plan stipulates that, in schemes of over 11 units, or where the residential floor space is more than 1000 square metres, 35% of the units should be affordable. However, it is less profitable for developers to build affordable homes, so, when assessing the viability of their schemes, they often argue that the requirement to do so should be reduced.
  • Many of the sites identified in Bromley for residential development are small, and suitable only for developments of ten or less units. These schemes do not meet the threshold for a developer contribution towards affordable housing.

Bromley plan to:

  • Build homes on council-owned land to meet the target for additional affordable homes. To do this, we will use funding from a variety of sources, including all our Section 106 planning gain, our Growth Fund and development grants.

They say that to achieve this they will:

  • Make the Housing Development Team responsible for scrutinising the viability assessments for every residential development planning application, and robustly challenging these.
  • Review the viability assessment process to ensure that this is as robust as possible including the options to publish the viability assessments submitted with planning applications so that the mix of market and affordable homes is open to public scrutiny to ensure transparency and delivery of affordable housing where viable on new development sites.
  • Ensure their definition of ‘intermediate’ housing and ‘affordable’ and ‘social’ rent, remains up to date, taking into account market rents and local incomes in Bromley. Revisit the breakdown of requirements for these three categories of housing in the Local Plan as required during the 10 year period.
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