Upwardly mobile homes

A proposal for 16 residential park homes on the edge of a village in Oxfordshire was dismissed at appeal in the absence of affordable housing provision, despite the appellant’s argument that the homes would themselves be affordable (DCS Number 400-020-174).

Development plan policy set out that 40 per cent affordable housing would be sought on all sites where there was a net gain of three or more dwellings, the inspector recorded. The appellant argued that because the proposal related to the change of use of the land for the siting of mobile homes and not operational development, that no affordable housing provision was necessary. The inspector, however, judged that the new park homes would for all intents and purposes be new homes. They would be self-contained units of accommodation and would be likely to provide living accommodation and facilities similar to a dwelling with space to cook, wash, sleep and relax. Accordingly, she held that the development plan policies relating to the provision of affordable housing were as relevant as they would be in cases of traditionally constructed dwellings.

The inspector did not doubt that park homes are likely to be cheaper to purchase or rent than traditional dwellings. She accepted that the provision of such homes on the site would therefore be likely to be attractive to certain members of the local community, as recognised in the Mobile (Park) Homes – Briefing Paper, House of Commons Library, to which the appellant had referred her. Nevertheless, there was no mechanism before her to ensure that the park homes would fall within any of the categories of affordable housing set out within the Framework and would remain so in the future. There was therefore no certainty that the development would provide an affordable route to those whose needs were not met by the market, whether that be affordable housing for rent, starter homes, discounted market sales housing, or other affordable routes to home ownership.

The inspector concluded that the park homes would not meet the planning definition of affordable housing, and the absence of affordable housing provision on the site would conflict with the aims of development plan policy which sought to provide homes to address the needs of different groups in the community.

Section 7.3 of DCP Online deals with the topic of affordable housing.