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Inspectors disagree over affordable homes threshold

An inspector has recently refused permission for a development of nine homes at Ovingdean, Brighton due to the

  • negative visual impact

of the proposals. The inspector considered whether Brighton and Hove City Council could seek an affordable housing contribution from the development.

The authority's local plan requires an affordable housing contribution from all types of residential development where the net gain is over five units, with a sliding scale meaning a contribution of 20% is required between 5 to 9 units. However this conflicts with the local plan policy, as set out in a 2014 written ministerial statement (WMS) which stipulates that no affordable allowance contributions should be sought for schemes of 10 units and below.

The inspector's letter said that, while the government's policy, as set out in the WMS, is a

  • material consideration of considerable importance and weight,

the council refers to

  • over 24,000 on the housing register with a large number of these in priority need.

This decision follows another in the same local authority area before Christmas which concluded that the policy in the WMS should outweigh the local plan policy. The go-ahead was given for nice flats above a business centre in Hove and the inspector said that he saw "no reason why policy set out in the WMS should not apply.

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