Approval of reserved matters for 71 dwellings in Leicestershire has been denied after an inspector found that the distribution and appearance of affordable housing would not result in an inclusive and mixed community (DCS Number 200-007-446).
The affordable housing units would mainly consist of short terrace rows of three dwellings situated within small clusters in the development, the inspector noted. He judged that it would be obvious to most observers that the market housing consisted of large detached or semi-detached houses with individual parking areas. Conversely, the affordable housing would be left with plain and potentially soulless parking courts to their front, with the overall scale and height of the terraces noticeably shorter than the market dwellings and narrower when viewed from the front. The likely outcome of this, he held, was that occupiers of the affordable housing and visitors to the development would be able to distinguish clearly between, as the council put it, the haves and have-nots. The inspector considered that such an outcome would be the antithesis of the aims of planning policy, set out at a national level, to design and deliver inclusive and mixed communities.
The appellant pointed to the fact that the affordable housing had not been ‘banished to the least attractive part of the site’ as the national Planning Practice Guidance seeks to avoid. The inspector acknowledged this, concurring that layout-wise the affordable housing was towards the centre of the site. He also acknowledged the fact that a two bedroom dwelling is, by its very nature, likely to be smaller that a five bedroom dwelling. Nevertheless, he considered that there would be a clear and noticeable distinction between affordable and market housing directly as a result of the appearance and scale proposed, distinctions which would be manifest and potentially result in the long term in a non-inclusive community. He found that the affordable housing would not be well integrated with the market housing. The inspector concluded that the noticeable differences in the affordable housing compared to market housing would undermine a key aim of national planning policy to create mixed and inclusive communities.
Developers must know that this approach to affordable housing is unlikely to succeed. Unless they are….detached from reality.
More on the integration of affordable housing in developments can be found at section 7.337 of DCP Online.