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Council bans developers from keeping their affordable housing studies confidential

The Royal Borough of Greenwich has become the first council to insist that developers whose planning applications do not meet affordable housing targets have to publish full and unredacted viability assessments.

Up until now, developers who claim their plans would be economically unviable if they had to include 35% of affordable housing in new residential developments (of 10 or more homes) have been able to request that such viability studies remain confidential.

Cllr Danny Thorpe, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, said: “This is about transparency for local people. Previously, our hands have been tied on affordable housing levels if the viability study showed a development won’t work financially with the levels of affordable housing that we want.

“This crucial change means whole process will now be far more transparent – making the viability studies publicly available as part of the planning documents means the Royal Borough and residents alike can see precisely why a developer might claim they cannot meet our affordable housing targets. We believe we’re the first local authority in the country to be doing this – looking at policy which insists on these studies being in the public domain.”

After such viability studies are submitted, independent experts make recommendations to the council.

The Royal Borough is also introducing a new list of 39 locally established criteria that sets out what information should be provided when submitting a planning application, including the public viability study.


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