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Supplementary planning guidance

Supplementary Planning Document

The Affordable Housing and Extra Care Housing Supplementary Planning Document was published in May 2014 and provides additional guidance to the affordable housing, rural exception site and Extra Care housing policies (CS18, CS19 and CS20) of the South Gloucestershire Core Strategy (adopted December 2013).

It is a material consideration when the council assesses and makes decisions on planning applications for new housing development.

It is proposed, subject to consultation, to replace the Affordable Housing and Extra Care SPD with a revised Affordable Housing SPD as part of a revised Local Plan.

Affordable housing threshold

A revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published in July 2018, and with minor amendments in February 2019, in which it states at paragraph 63 that:

“Provision of affordable housing should not be sought for residential developments that are not major developments, other than in designated rural areas (where policies may set out a lower threshold of 5 units or fewer).”

National guidance regarding planning obligations was brought into line with the NPPF 2018 through amendments to the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG): Planning Obligations in March 2019. Paragraph 023 Reference ID 23b-023-20190315 of that guidance relates to the threshold below which affordable housing contributions should not be required. The main amendments to national policy are:

  • Provision of affordable housing should only be sought for residential developments that are major developments.
  • Major development is defined by the NPPF as defined as development of 10 or homes will be built or the site has an area of 0.5 hectares or more.
  • In designated rural areas, local planning authorities may choose to set their own thresholds in plans and seek affordable housing above that threshold.

The only designated rural areas in South Gloucestershire are those that lie within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where a lower threshold of five or more dwellings, or 0.2 hectares and above will apply and require an on-site affordable housing contribution, as set out in Policy CS18 Affordable Housing.

The national guidance supersedes the current Core Strategy Policy CS18, except in relation to applications in rural parishes where there is recent evidence of a local need for affordable housing, in which case Policy CS18 will be applied.

Vacant Building Credit

The NPPG: Planning Obligations also introduced the Vacant Building Credit in paragraphs 026-028.

The purpose of the credit is to encourage brownfield development where a vacant building is brought back into lawful use or is demolished to be replaced by a new building. It allows a reduction in any affordable housing contribution, equivalent to the floorspace of the existing vacant building.

We will apply the Vacant Building Credit as appropriate, according to the guidance contained in the vacant building credit informative July 2019, which also contains the method for calculating the credit.

Affordable Housing Space and Access Standards

The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) also contains guidance on Housing: optional technical standards regarding space and access standards and provides links to the relevant documents. These were introduced in 2015 as optional Building Regulations which could be adopted by local authorities in their local development plans where they could be supported by evidence of need and viability. These standards replace the Code for Sustainable Homes, which has been withdrawn.

South Gloucestershire adopted the Policies, Sites and Places Development Plan Document (PSP DPD) on the 8 November 2017. Policy PSP 37 – Internal Space and Accessibility Standards for Affordable Dwellings sets out our approach to these standards, requiring consistency with the Nationally Described Space Standard, accessibility standard M4(2) and the provision of 8% affordable dwellings to meet the wheelchair standard M4(3).

Viability Assessments

The NPPG: Viability published guidance in July 2018, updated in May 2019 at Paragraph: 021 Reference ID 10-021-20190509, which states that viability assessments should be prepared on the basis that they will be made publicly available other than in exceptional circumstances. This supersedes guidance in the Affordable Housing and Extra Care Housing SPD relating to viability assessments.

Usually, development proposals should meet the policy requirements of the South Gloucestershire Local Plan and not require viability assessments, in line with Paragraph: 007 Reference ID: 10-007-20190509 of the national guidance.  In cases where the council accepts that a viability assessment is justified, that assessment will be made publicly available, in line with the national guidance.

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