Oxford City Council forced to accept Lower Affordable Housing Contributions
Date of Article
Feb 03 2015

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3 February 2015, Oxford City Council has conceded that in light of recent changes to national Planning Practice Guidance, it will no longer be able to seek affordable housing contributions from smaller schemes.

The national Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) states that ‘contributions for affordable housing.... should not be sought from developments of 10-units or less, which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1,000 sq m’.  At a meeting of Oxford City Council on 2nd February 2015, members reluctantly accepted the new national guidance, and agreed that for schemes under the aforementioned thresholds, they would not seek on-site affordable housing provision or a financial contribution towards the delivery of affordable housing elsewhere.

The Officer Report linked here, suggests that the change in approach could cost the City Council over £500,000 per annum in lost affordable housing contributions.

Ian Gillespie, Partner at Carter Jonas, commented – “This is a significant change in approach.  Developers of smaller schemes (under 9 units) were previously having to make a financial contribution towards affordable housing equivalent to 15% of the total sale value of the development.  There are no guarantees that the change in approach will last.  The outcome of the forthcoming general election could easily result in further changes in affordable housing policy, and indeed, two Berkshire authorities are currently seeking to challenge the Government’s PPG amendments (in relation to affordable housing) in the High Court”.