Islington Council wins affordable housing case after calling for lower threshold

Islington Town Hall. Picture: Top Drawer Sausage (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Islington Town Hall. Picture: Top Drawer Sausage (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

The town hall has won a planning dispute over the need for affordable housing contributions from developers building 10 homes or less.

An appeal was made against Islington Council’s decision to demand affordable housing payments for a semi-detached home in Parkhurst Road, Holloway.

Islington’s own planning guidance states developers building 10 homes or fewer must make a contribution for affordable homes elsewhere in the borough.

This is at odds with a written ministerial statement from 2014, which ruled developments of the same size should be exempt, to “relieve the disproportionate financial burden on small-scale developers”.

Islington submitted evidence to the Planning Inspectorate arguing the threshold should be lower, because most developments in the borough were of 10 homes or less and if no contribution was made it would “compromise the borough’s ability to deliver on its affordable homes target.

Lawyers for the council referenced a 2016 Court of Appeal judgment which, in upholding the WMS, found it should not be applied without first considering the “local circumstances” of the area.

Inspector Debbie Moore sided with the council. She said: “I am satisfied from the evidence submitted by the council that there is a demonstrable affordability gap in both the home ownership and private rented sectors, and there is a significant need for affordable housing in Islington.

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“The evidence also indicates that an absence of contributions from small sites would compromise the borough’s ability to deliver its objectively assessed need for affordable housing, and contribute towards the London Plan annual target for affordable homes.

“On this basis, I consider that the specific local circumstances are such that the WMS does not outweigh relevant local policy.”

It is the second affordable housing planning victory in recent months for the council. In June the inspectorate upheld the town hall’s refusal of planning permission for a separate site in Parkhurst Road on the grounds it didn’t provide the “maximum reasonable amount” of affordable homes.

Islington’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward welcomed last week’s decision. He said: “Islington, like London, is facing a housing crisis and genuinely affordable housing is badly needed in the city. We are very pleased the inspector supported our arguments to help secure this.”