Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

Affordable Housing Policy Target

8.28 The evidence in the SHMA suggests that the maximum District wide affordable housing target, based on the evidence of need, is 35% of a housing development. The Strategic Housing Land Viability Assessment (SHLVA)[1] (which forms part of the SHMA), tested the viability of a number of ‘real’ and notional sites, with scenarios with no affordable housing and at 15%, 30%, 35% and 40% affordable housing. In each case the affordable housing was assumed to be a combination of social rented and intermediate affordable housing with the options for a 60/40 split and an 80/20 split were both tested. The calculations were carried out on the basis of zero Social Housing Grant available to spend towards provision. Taking into account market conditions the viability analysis suggests that the maximum target justifiable on strategic viability grounds across the District generally, is 30% (as at July 2008). This data has since been updated[2] and shows that as of April 2010 that target has reduced to 20% reflecting the worsening housing market.

8.29 In order to address the issue of the changing housing market the SHMA suggests adopting a 2 staged flexible approach to policy by having an overall District wide target but implementing a process of repeating the viability analysis on an annual basis to derive a viable (at the time of negotiation for planning consent) target.

8.30 The Strategic Housing Market Assessment recognises that an affordable housing target cannot be viable on all sites[3] and there must be scope for an applicant for a specific site to demonstrate that the application of the general affordable housing target would not be viable. This issue can be addressed by taking an open book approach to negotiation as referred to earlier. Whilst the 2 stage flexible approach may present a degree of flexibility it could also create problems that may impact on deliverability, such as creating uncertainty for developers. Taking this into consideration the Council will pursue a policy that seeks the appropriate requirement, based on justifiable need, but recognising that viability considerations could result in reduced provision being achieved. The current Strategic Housing Land Viability Assessment will clearly present key evidence in any negotiation. The option of undertaking an up-date of the viability assessment every 3 years has been chosen by the Council rather than on an annual basis as a pragmatic approach and reflecting likely timescales for changes in economic circumstances. The latest information produced will be used to inform negotiation on affordable housing delivery. Where an open book approach is taken regarding viability, the Council has an adopted Protocol[4] for dealing with Planning Obligations as outlined in the Strategy section and in Policies SS6-SS8 of this document.

1. Strategic Housing Land Viability Assessment, Final Report, February 2009 [back]
2. Affordable Housing Threshold Viability Study, South Somerset District Council, Annex, May 2010 [back]
3. Taunton and South Somerset Housing Market Areas Strategic Housing market Assessments Final Report February 2009 [back]
4. South Somerset District Council Planning Obligations Protocol, 2006 [back]