North Devon and Torridge adopted their joint local plan in October 2019. It states that it will “set out the long-term vision for how the towns, villages and countryside of northern Devon will develop and evolve”.
Policy ST18 of the Local Plan sets out the expectations regarding affordable housing in the area; this can be seen below:
As seen above, there are different requirements based on the number of dwellings proposed, combined with location of the development.
For general residential development where either 11+ dwellings are proposed or the total GIA will be greater than 1,000m2, 30% of the gross number of units are to be provided as affordable housing on-site.
In rural areas designated under section 157 of the Housing Act 1985, including North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, developments of 6-10 dwellings will be expected to provide a financial contribution broadly equivalent to 30% affordable housing.
1c provides a caveat pre-empting any future change in the ‘major developments’ threshold outlined in national guidance. In the event this is removed, the 30% requirement will apply to all development with a net gain in open market housing.
The preferred tenure mix proposed by the Councils are 75% social rent and 25% intermediate accommodation. However, a variation can be negotiated on the basis of local housing needs and/or viability.
Vacant building credit can be applied for the existing property or properties in the development are eligible. As a result, the affordable housing requirement will be discounted by the proportion of existing floorspace. See our article on Vacant Building Credit here for more information.
On-site delivery of affordable housing is preferred; however, if it can be demonstrated that this is not possible or appropriate, an off-site delivery or financial contribution may be considered.
The scale and provision of affordable housing, infrastructure and planning requirements are all subject to negotiation on the basis that a robust viability appraisal is submitted demonstrating the schemes position.
S106M management have vast experience negotiating viability in North Devon & Torridge and would recommend a site-specific viability assessment be carried out on all developments of 11+ units.
Case Study in Torridge\
Amount sought = £2.1million in S106 contributions and 60 on-site affordable housing units.
Amount achieved = £1.2million in S106 contributions and zero affordable housing units.
Indicative saving = c.£10million.
This site in Torridge originally had outline planning permission for the development of 143 dwellings. A new hybrid application was submitted consisted of a full application consisting of a full application for 59 dwellings and an outline application for up to 141 dwellings plus commercial space.
The existing brownfield site had vacant buildings on, vacant building credit was applied to the proposed development.
The DV concluded that the original full planning policy requirement (24% affordable housing after vacant building credit adjustment + £2.1million in S106 contributions) was not financially viable. After a viability appraisal was submitted and accepted, a reduced S106 contribution figure of c.£1.2million was agreed to be viable in the current environment.
S106M effectively helped the client apply vacant building credit, eliminate their on-site affordable housing and reduce their S106 contributions; this resulted in an overall saving of c.£10million.