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Affordable Housing & Sheltered Accommodation - On Site Provision

Jeremy Phillips QC

On 19 July 2007 Mr J P Sargent BA (Hons) MA MRTPI sitting as Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State dismissed the appeal of McCarthy & Stone (Developments) Limited against a decision of Hertsmere Borough Council refusing the company's application for planning permission for a development to form 39 (Category II) sheltered apartments for the elderly.

The decision is of interest because of the Inspector's findings in relation to the provision of affordable housing within sheltered accommodation. He noted that PPS3 (and the Local Plan) 'set demanding standards for the justification of affordable housing off ... site'. Notwithstanding the five reasons given by the developers for not making such provision 'on site' and the 'numerous' appeal decisions' which they 'submitted from around the country' to justify that position, 'the provision of affordable housing off-site, whether in the form of actual houses or a financial contribution, has not been robustly justified'. In particular, the Inspector held that no evidence had been adduced that 'the service charge could not be met for any social housing, or that such units could not be managed in conjunction with the overall management of the block'. He noted that he had been 'referred to no case where ill-feeling between residents had occurred' and he saw no reason why such an outcome would be inevitable. The constraint of affordability relating primarily to shared ownership housing 'would not be as applicable if a housing provider were to step in'. Finally, even though the priority need in the borough might be for general social rented housing, there was 'nothing in either national or local policy or guidance' which said that 'affordable housing should only address the priority need'.

Jeremy Phillips represented Hertsmere Borough Council at the four day Inquiry, instructed by David Raggatt, Interim Head of Legal Services.

Please click here to view the decision.