Planning and Housing

24.05.18

High Court backs London mayor’s affordable housing threshold approach

The High Court has backed the mayor of London’s “threshold” approach to affordable housing.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by four retirement home developers, who claimed that the approach would fail to secure the maximum reasonable level of affordable housing.

Under the scheme, contained within the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing and Viability, developments can be fast tracked through the planning system if they provide a minimum of 35% affordable housing.

Handing down judgement yesterday, the Mr. Justice Ouseley ruled that the approach is consistent with the adopted London Plan.

The SPG requires that late viability reviews are provided in all cases where a development does not meet the relevant threshold level.

Although the judgement says that applying this threshold to shorter term schemes – without reference to whether this is delayed or not – is inconsistent with the current London Plan, the Mayor’s Draft London Plan includes the same requirements on reviews as the SPG, and so the judgement confirmed that it has weight as it is an emerging plan.

Claims that the guidance should have been the subject of Strategic Environment Assessment were also rejected, as were claims that mayor Sadiq Khan had failed to have due regard for his duties under the public sector equality duty of the Equality Act 2010.

Jules Pipe, deputy mayor for planning, skills and regeneration, said that tackling the capital’s housing crisis is one of Khan’s top priorities, and that the ruling is “an important moment” for thousands of Londoners who are “desperate” for genuinely affordable homes.

She added: “Our guidance sets out a clear approach that makes the planning system in London clearer, quicker and more consistent.

“I am pleased that the judge has backed this approach which will help us to turn around years of neglect when it comes to building the homes Londoners so desperately need.”

 

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