Avoiding affordable housing provision

In deciding an appeal against the refusal of outline permission for a development of eight houses in Essex an inspector has concluded that there is no need to make provision for affordable housing despite the council’s claim that the floorspace of the dwellings is likely to be over 1000sqm (DCS Number 400-012-163).

The Planning Policy Guidance states that contributions should not be sought from developments of 10 units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1000 sqm, the inspector recorded. He reasoned that the application had been submitted in outline with scale and appearance as reserved matters and the application form stated that there would be six two-bedroom and two three-bedroom dwellings. As such he had no evidence to lead him to the conclusion that the dwellings would be overly large and that their combined floorspace would be over 1000 sqm. He concluded that it was not necessary for the proposed development to make a contribution to the provision of affordable housing.

In this case the appeal was dismissed, the inspector finding substantial harm to the character and appearance of the area and that further work was required on flood risk assessment. If these matters had been found acceptable, however, and the council was right in its anticipation that the proposed floorspace at reserved matters stage was over 1000 sqm, it seems that the developer would have gained permission without having to make a contribution towards affordable housing, contrary to the objectives of the PPG.

Is this example a template for avoiding affordable housing provision on schemes which are a bit over the 1000 sqm threshold?

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.6244

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