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This consultation is seeking views and comments on changing affordable housing contributions on qualifying sites to 40% of habitable development area. This could be on-site square meterage (sqm), or base this on habitable floorspace or habitable rooms. Habitable space refers to bedrooms, cooking, eating and living areas.
Moving from a percentage calculated on unit numbers will incentivise developers to build more smaller homes and therefore increased numbers of open market houses (also increasing density). This will also support the Council delivering the affordable housing it needs.
Analysis has shown that although often developments provide 40% of units as affordable, the affordable square meterage provided may be much less. Market dwellings will normally have a larger number of bedrooms than affordable dwellings. For dwellings with the same number of bedrooms, market housing will usually have a larger floor space than an affordable dwelling.
The existing policy of a percentage calculated on unit numbers leads to an incentive on a developers to increase the size of units and reduce numbers. This means more land than necessary has to be released from the Green Belt due to low densities being delivered on allocated sites. It also leads to inadequate housing provision as a result, particularly fewer first time buyer homes, as well as fewer affordable.
The Council wants to see more first time buyer homes and smaller homes and is keen to incentivise this through the affordable housing policy. The existing Meeting Housing Needs SPD for affordable housing requires the private and affordable to be similar in size and will allow this policy to be achieved and increase densities on both brownfield and Green Belt releases.