Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG)

The Mayor is committed to increasing the level of affordable housing delivered through the planning process. 

To achieve this, the Mayor's intend to publish London Plan sets out a strategic target that half of new homes should be affordable (Policy H4). The Mayor has also introduced the Threshold Approach to affordable housing through Policy H5 of the intend to publish London Plan and Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG).

What is a Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG)?

A Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) explains how policies in the London Plan should be carried through into action.

An SPG is a formal supplement to the London Plan and is an important consideration in decisions on planning applications. It can also assist London boroughs when preparing their Local Plans.

Fast Track Route

Under the Threshold Approach, development proposals that provide 35 per cent affordable housing and 50 per cent on public and industrial land (where industrial floorspace capacity is not being re-provided in line with policy E7, Industrial Intensification, co-location and substitution), and that meet tenure, affordability and other relevant requirements, can follow the Fast Track Route.  

The Fast Track Route enables developments to progress without the need to submit detailed viability information and without late viability review mechanisms which re-assess viability at an advanced stage of the development process. 

The Mayor strongly encourages applicants to follow the Fast Track Route which has provided greater certainty to the market, sped up the planning process, and has helped to increase the level of affordable housing secured in new developments. 

Schemes that do not provide the threshold level of affordable housing or meet other relevant policy criteria, or that provide off-site or cash in lieu contributions, must follow the Viability Tested Route and are subject to viability scrutiny and late, as well as early, review mechanisms. 

Under the Threshold Approach, schemes that follow the Fast Track Route are subject to early viability review mechanisms if they do not reach substantial implementation within a specified timeframe. Longer term developments may also be required to provide mid-term reviews. The GLA has issued standard S106 agreement review clauses which reflect the approach in the SPG. 

Further details of the Threshold Approach are set out in the Mayor's intend to publish London Plan and the Affordable Housing and Viability SPG which is available below. The GLA has also produced Practice Notes on the Affordable Housing Threshold for Public Land and Affordable Housing Planning Obligations on Sites led by Housing Associations which are also available below.

Further information on the process for assessing affordable housing and viability is available here.  
 

Specialist forms of residential development

The Mayor's intend to publish London Plan also applies the Threshold Approach to specialist forms of residential development as set out in the following policies: H11 Build to Rent; H13 Specialist Older Persons Housing; and, H15 Purpose-built Student Accommodation. Schemes providing the relevant threshold level of affordable housing and other relevant criteria will be considered under the Fast Track Route. If this is not the case schemes will follow the Viability Tested Route.

Policy H16 relates to Large-Scale Purpose-Built Shared Living and requires that all such schemes must follow the Viability Tested Route. A financial contribution is expected that is equivalent to 35 per cent of the units, or 50 per cent where the development is on public sector land or industrial land appropriate for residential uses in accordance with Policy E7 Industrial intensification, co-location and substitution. This is to be provided at a discount of 50 per cent of the market rent. Where this is provided a scheme will not be subject to a late stage viability review.

Loss of existing housing and estate redevelopment

Policy H8, Loss of Existing Housing and Estate Redevelopment, states that all development proposals that include the demolition and replacement of affordable housing are required to follow the Viability Tested Route and should seek to provide an uplift in affordable housing in addition to the replacement affordable housing floorspace. 

Utilities sites

The Mayor's intend to publish London Plan recognises that some surplus utility sites are subject to substantial decontamination, enabling and remediation costs. If it is robustly demonstrated that extraordinary decontamination, enabling or remediation costs must be incurred to bring a surplus utilities site forward for development, then a 35 per cent affordable housing threshold can be applied, subject to detailed evidence, including viability evidence, being made available.  

Affordable Housing and Viability SPG

Threshold Approach to Affordable Housing on Public Land

Housing Associations and Affordable Housing Planning Obligations

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