Planning Changes to Section 106 obligations will make smaller Residential Development easier

A few of us have always said that a larger proportion of housing needs could be satisfied by more development of ‘infill plots’.  It is not suburban garden grabbing but moreover the sites in towns, villages and cities which are ‘back land’ or the undeveloped and odd shaped remnants of land remaining after piecemeal development over the ages.

In the news I spotted that Planning minister Brandon Lewis said that, “due to the burden of developer contributions on small scale developers, affordable housing and tariff style contributions will not be sought for sites of 10-units or fewer”.

Mr Lewis said: “By lowering the construction cost of small-scale new build housing and home improvements, these reforms will help increase housing supply.  In particular, they will encourage development on smaller brownfield sites and help to diversify the house building sector by providing a much-needed boost to small and medium-sized developers.”

Whilst the smaller and medium sized residential developer market is not that strong – many perished in the recession, there are still enough developers around to take advantage of relaxed planning obligations like this one.  It is a positive proposal.

The government is also providing £525m through the Builders’ Finance Fund (2015/16 to 2016/17) to provide development finance to unlock stalled small housing sites and opening up the Builders Finance Fund to support small building firms schemes, from five units in size upwards.

We can add our voice of endorsement on this to the Builders’ lobby groups who have welcomed the moves.  The Home Builders Federation said: “This exemption would offer small and medium-sized developers a shot in the arm.  The time and expense of negotiating Section 106 affordable housing contribution on small sites, and the subsequent payments, can threaten viability of small developments and act as another barrier to the entry and growth of smaller firms.”

It should make it easier for anyone with a site they want to sell with fewer plots than the 10 unit threshold!

For advice on planning or agency work contact one of the team at Harris Lamb.