MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to raise concerns and lobby the Government about a growing practice of housing developers avoiding their obligations to build affordable homes.
The Secretary of State formally had housing added to his brief in the Prime Minister’s reshuffle of her top team earlier this week. Mr Morgan has asked the Secretary of State to use the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to close what is known as the ‘viability loophole’.
Stephen Morgan MP told Mr Javid:
“Currently, in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), developers are guaranteed “competitive returns” on their development. With no official definition, this has come to be interpreted as an average of around 20% profit.
This viability loophole provides a safety net for developers, enabling them to overpay for land to guarantee they win sites, safe in the knowledge they will be able to argue down affordable housing and other contributions to make their money back later”.
The Housing Charity, Shelter, has revealed that in just one year, more than 2,500 affordable homes have been lost due to the viability loophole, whilst land prices have shot up.
This research also suggests viability assessments occur far too frequently: almost half of planning applications submitted in 2016/17 included a viability assessment.
Data collected in the British Social Attitudes Survey shows that 73% of people support development that is “affordable to people on average incomes”
In his letter to the Secretary of State, Mr Morgan added:
“Nationally, and locally in my constituency of Portsmouth South, we are experiencing a housing crisis.
With the rise in house prices far outstripping that of wages over the past 20 years, falling rates of home ownership and almost 1.2m on council housing waiting lists, it’s clear we need investment to stimulate house-building”.