Any developer not meeting Lambeth’s 40% affordable housing target will soon be forced to publish their viability assessments under proposals to be voted on by Lambeth’s Labour Cabinet on Monday.
The move is designed to make it more difficult for developers to dodge their affordable housing obligations. Public confidence has been damaged by well documented abuses of the current system, with some developers undervaluing sales values and inflating construction costs to keep projected surpluses artificially low.
These flaws in the planning system were identified in the Labour Party commissioned Lyons report which found that the lack of standardised methodology was allowing “different parties to pick the methodology most to their advantage” and “working in favour of the partner with the most skilled consultants acting for it.”
With 22,000 people on the housing waiting list in Lambeth and figures released last week showing that the number of affordable homes built in England has dipped to the lowest level for two decades, major developments are a vital source of homes for people in need. In Lambeth, there are some great examples of how the system should work. Housing developments completed on Black Prince Road in Kennington, Valley Road in Streatham and Macaulay Road in Clapham over the last year have all delivered at least 40% affordable housing – a total of 60 new homes for people on the waiting list.
The new planning requirements, to be included in a supplementary planning document (SPD), will mean that developers who fail to meet the affordable homes target will be expected to publish a viability assessment explaining why, that will be publicly available and not redacted. The SPD is also intended to improve consistency in approach, and ensure that viability appraisals are formed of inputs that are supported by robust evidence.
This will help end the damaging perception that deals with developers are done behind closed doors and are not transparent, clear or fair
The draft development viability SPD will be available for comment on the council’s website as part of a 12 week consultation ending in February.