Why the affordable housing contribution judgement is bad news for Sevenoaks

Today, Brandon Lewes MP and Housing & Planning Minister, hailed a judgment that paves the way for more housebuilding on smaller sites and that will get homes built more easily. But this judgement is bad news for this district.

The Court of Appeal decision restores a government policy which means affordable homes contributions will fall to those bigger developers building the largest sites – while those smaller builders developing sites of 10 homes or fewer will be able to get work started on their sites, without facing charges that could leave them unable to build any homes at all.

In Sevenoaks, a district where house prices are up to seventeen times higher than average wages, most of our developments are under three units. Nor surprisingly we are 93% Greenbelt. That means, that despite development being profitable in Sevenoaks (whether the country is in boom or bust) most of our developers won’t have to pay a penny of affordable housing contribution to help those with household incomes less than £80,000 per year (most of us) that live in this district.

This will contribute to the breaking up of families and communities. Young adults will leave the district leaving older relatives lonely living in asset rich, cash poor, large homes susceptible to falls.

The judgement is not even necessary. We have viability clauses where if a developer can prove that their development is unviable when paying the affordable housing contribution – it is either reduced or removed.

Right to buy is likely to result in social housing being replaced in other parts of the county where land prices are cheaper and more available (ie with less greenbelt).

All of these measures combined will mean more and more £1million plus homes (developments of less than three units) built in the district. Social homes bought up and rebuilt elsewhere. No affordable housing contribution for us as a council to use for schemes, such as our joint Home of Your Own scheme with Moat Housing Association, which helped nearly 20 young professionals step on the housing ladder in this district.

I hope, for the sake of households earning less than £80,000 a year in our district, that the government allows local exemptions to this ruling.