Developers using new Leeds council policy to renege on affordable housing commitments

Developers in Leeds are taking advantage of a Council policy introduced in Spring to go back on earlier commitments, cutting the number of affordable homes they plan to build, councillors say.

In Spring this year, Leeds City Council’s executive passed a new interim policy which by and large reduced the percentage of affordable homes that developers had to provide for the next two years. The aim was to encourage developers to get building at a time when the housing market is stalled.

Now it turns out that developers are tearing up their old planning applications and submitting new ones after revising downwards their commitments to affordable housing in line with the new policy.

Members of the council’s regeneration Scrutiny Board have been looking into the issue of private developers’ provision of affordable housing. Having clocked what’s going on, they’re now calling on the Council’s executive to urgently think again and return to the higher percentage targets that were in force before Spring.

Garforth development

“This (new policy) has resulted in the majority of developers reneging on previous undertakings and providing reduced numbers of affordable homes in accordance with the Council’s own interim policy, particularly on greenfield sites,” a report being presented to a meeting of the Board next week says.

“Members are asked to consider agreeing an interim recommendation to the Executive Board in that it reconsiders this interim housing policy as a matter of urgency with a view to reinstating the 2008 affordable housing targets in relation to Greenfield sites,” it says.

The report gave as an example an application by Ben Bailey Homes to build 69 houses in Garforth. An initial outline application – which got stalled and went to appeal – made a commitment that 30% of the homes in the development would be “affordable housing”. The appeal over and won by the developer, a fresh full planning application has now been received by the Council, in which the commitment is to build only 15% affordable housing – in line with the new policy.

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