Could councils lose millions on vacant building credit?

15 July 2015

This meeting took place on 16 July 2015. Read the transcript here.

In February this year, a cross-party group of London politicians called on the Planning Minister to immediately suspend the Vacant Building Credit. [1]

They warned the policy created a “perverse incentive for unscrupulous landlords and developers to evict existing tenants and could result in the loss of billions of pounds’ worth of affordable housing investment from developers.”

Westminster City Council has voiced its opposition to the credit - and it has been reported that the policy could wipe more than £1 billion a year off Westminster City Council’s affordable housing fund.

The City of London Corporation has also voiced its opposition, warning that the policy could mean it loses around £8 million a year in affordable housing contributions.[2]

Will the Vacant Building Credit mean that developers end up building fewer affordable homes? Will affordable housing tenants be evicted and their units replaced with luxury flats?

The London Assembly Planning Committee will tomorrow explore the issue with the following guests:

· John Lett, Greater London Authority (GLA), Strategic Planning Manager, London Plan Team

· Jennifer Peters, GLA, Senior Strategic Planner, London Plan Team

· Alan Benson, GLA, Senior Manager, Housing and Land

· Charles Begley, Executive Director, Westminster Property Association

· Oliver Wainwright, architecture and design critic, The Guardian

· Pat Hayes, London Borough of Ealing

· Patrick McAllister, Professor in Real Estate, University College London

· Stephen Hill, C20 Future Planners (part of meeting)

The discussion is part of a meeting on consultation to changes to the Mayor’s Housing Guidance. The Committee will also look at guidance affecting the delivery of affordable housing, and guidance on setting levels of affordable housing.

The meeting will take place tomorrow, Thursday 16 July from 2:00pm in Committee Room 5, City Hall (The Queen’s Walk, London SE1).

Media and members of the public are invited to attend. The meeting can also be viewed via webcast.


Notes for Editors:

The Vacant Building Credit applies to any vacant building brought back into any lawful use, or demolished to be replaced by a new building. The developer is offered a financial ‘credit’ equivalent to the existing gross floor space of vacant buildings when the local planning authority calculates affordable housing contributions. The credit is the equivalent of the gross floorspace of any vacant buildings being brought back into use or demolished as part of the scheme, and is deducted from the overall affordable housing contribution calculation. This means that affordable housing contributions may only be required for any increase in floor space.

See here:

The agenda and committee papers are available here.

Nicky Gavron AM, Chair of the Planning Committee is available for interview. See contact details below.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Ash Singleton on 020 7983 5769. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100