It’s another straw in the wind but landowners of small and medium sites should take note of the decision in Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government v West Berkshire District Council . The outcome of the case now means that sites which were previously considered commercially unviable may be worth a second look.
The background is that in 2014 the Government put a line of policy in its Planning Practice Guidance stating that affordable housing contributions should not be sought from developments of up to ten units (or five in a National Park/ AONB). That policy was successfully challenged by a local planning authority which argued it was not for Government to write local plan policy. So, off the Government lawyers went with an appeal against that ruling.
After considering all the arguments, the Court of Appeal has now rejected the local authorities’ view. Last Thursday the Government reinstated its guidance on exempting small sites from affordable housing in the terms it had originally specified, which has now opened the door for owners of small or medium sites to look again at redevelopment opportunities.