Elmbridge’s Local Plan was adopted in July 2011; it states that it ‘sets out planning policies and proposals for how the communities and places in the Borough will develop’. Of more relevance, the Core Strategy section ‘sets out the vision, spatial strategy and core policies that are used for shaping future development in the Borough’.
Elmbridge’s affordable housing policy, Core Strategy Policy CS21, aims to deliver 20-40% on-site units as affordable, dependant on the number of proposed dwellings in the development, and most importantly subject to viability.
Policy CS21 of the Elmbridge Core Strategy can be seen below:
For developments of 15+ units, the expectation is that 40% are to be affordable, 6-14 units would require 30% as affordable and 5 units would be 20% affordable.
Importantly, on schemes of 1-4 units an off-site financial contribution equivalent to 20% would be expected. This is despite the NPPF para 64 stating that only major development (10+ units) should be required to provide affordable housing. Some projects proposing 5+ units may also be able to negotiate an off-site provision for affordable housing if there are exceptional circumstances – viability among them.
The Elmbridge Development Contributions SPD (July 2020 –Updated April 2021) informs us that any development on public land, regardless of the number of units proposed, is expected to provide 50% as affordable housing. It also states that ‘the Council reserves the right to apply to policy using habitable rooms’, if this would result in a better mix of dwellings for the outlined need.
S106 Management have completed hundreds of successful viability challenges in Elmbridge, both during applications and appeals. While the council justify their policy diverging from the NPPF and seeking contributions on smaller developments in terms of local need, it is based on data over a decade out of date.
Therefore we advise that a site-specific viability assessment is completed on all developments of 1 or more dwellings in Elmbridge.
Previous Work in Elmbridge
Proposed development = Demolish existing build and erect a block of 7 self-contained flats.
Policy Implications/Requirements = CS21 suggests that developments of 6-14 dwellings should provide 30% of the gross number of dwellings as affordable housing.
Expectation on Affordable Housing = In this instance, 30% of the gross number of dwellings would result in 2 units of affordable housing and a financial contribution (as the excess).
Result = The residual site value was determined to be less than the benchmark land value, therefore resulting in a negative figure and only allowing a profit of 13.09% which is lower than the targeted 20%. The contribution towards affordable housing was dismissed as it was not deemed viable.