Borough set to back new affordable-housing rules

by Jim Dunton Wed 3 July 2013, 5:20 pm

Reading Borough Council is poised to adopt new rules that will require developers to provide an element of affordable housing in small developments.

Up until now, the authority could only ask for affordable homes to be incorporated in schemes of 15 properties or more.

But new proposals in a supplementary planning document set to be approved next week by the authority’s Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport Committee will remove the distinction.

Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s environment, planning and transport lead, said the new guidelines would strengthen the authority’s ability to negotiate with developers.

“Around 150 affordable homes a year have been built over the past 10 years as a direct result of these planning agreements,” he said.

“I am pleased that the Council will be able to negotiate affordable housing on smaller schemes, rather than just from the large scale developments as was previously the case."

According to the guidance, the council is targeting 50 per cent affordable housing provision on larger sites, but is prepared to accept a lower proportion on developments of fewer than 15 homes.

Nevertheless, the draft document states that an over-all target for the borough is 40 per cent of new-build housing to be affordable.

It says that the council’s “normal expectation” would be that the affordable housing will be provided on-site, but that in “exceptional” circumstances surrogate sites or financial contributions in lieu of affordable housing will be considered.

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