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ARCH annual report


The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.


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Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy 10/12/2015

The government has issued a consultation paper on proposed changes to national planning policy including proposed changes to broaden the definition of affordable housing.


The Department of Communities and Local Government issued a consultation paper on 7 December 2015 seeking views on changes to national planning policy. It covers the following areas:


  1. Broadening the definition of affordable housing to expand the definition of affordable housing for planning purposes to include a wider range of home ownership models including starter homes and other low cost home ownership models not held "in perpetuity";
  2. Increasing the density of development around commuter hubs to make more efficient use of land in suitable locations;
  3. Supporting sustainable new settlements, development on brownfield land and small sites, and delivery of housing numbers agreed in Local Plans;
  4. Supporting delivery of starter homes


In parallel, the Housing and Planning Bill is introducing a statutory duty on local authorities to promote the delivery of starter homes including a requirement for a proportion of starter homes to be delivered on all suitable reasonably-sized housing developments.


This consultation paper does not set out details of the proposed proportion of starter homes to be delivered on such sites but promises separate consultation on the level at which this requirement will be set.   


The Bill defines starter homes as new dwellings for first time buyers under 40, sold at a discount of at least 20% of market value and at less than a price cap of £250,000 (£450,000 in London). This means eligible first time buyers could benefit from a discount of up to £50,000 ((£90,000 in London).


Support is also available to buyers through the Help to Buy ISA to help purchasers save for a deposit under which the government will top up the savings account with £50 for every £200 saved towards a deposit with the government bonus capped at a total of £3,000 on £12,000 of saving.


The current affordable housing definition in national planning policy includes some intermediate low cost home ownership models such as homes for shared ownership and shared equity, provided they are subject to "in perpetuity" restrictions on future sales; or the subsidy is recycled for alternative affordable housing provision.


Under this definition, in 2014/15, a total of 66,640 affordable homes were provided in England including:


  • 9,590 for social rent
  • 40,710 for affordable rent at up to 80% of market rent
  • 16,340 intermediate affordable housing of which 16,080 were for home ownership 


ARCH CEO, John Bibby, commented that proposals to improve access to home ownership for those who aspire to own their own home, and can afford to do so, is to be welcomed. However the proposal to amend the national planning policy definition of affordable housing so that it encompasses a wider range of home ownership products (such as discount market sales or rent to buy schemes) that are not subject to "in perpetuity" restrictions or have a requirement to recycle subsidy is likely to lead to a significant reduction in both the annual supply of affordable rented housing through the planning system and, in the long term, reduce the numbers of affordable housing held in perpetuity for future generations.


View the consultation paper.


These proposals relate to England only and the closing date for responses to the consultation paper is Monday 25 January 2016. ARCH members are urged to respond to the consultation paper and to copy their responses to ARCH Policy Adviser Matthew Warburton. (

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