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Affordable housing - a guide for new developments

General guidance on providing affordable housing in new developments.

It is important that housing development provides affordable housing to meet local needs and encourages balanced communities. Where residential developments capable of taking 15 or more dwellings are proposed, 40% of the total number of dwellings will be sought for affordable housing. This note gives initial advice for applicants and developers on what we are looking for.

If you do not address the need for affordable housing we may refuse planning permission, so we encourage you to talk to our planning and housing officers at an early stage.

Local Plan policy

Policy H9 in the Uttlesford Local Plan, sets out the council's affordable housing requirements.

The key aspects of the policy are:

  • Affordable housing is likely to be most effectively met by social rented accommodation
  • The percentage of affordable housing sought in housing developments will normally be 40% of the total dwellings proposed on eligible sites.

The council will apply H9 to:

  • Proposals for residential accommodation on sites capable of taking 15 or more units or 0.5 hectares and over
  • Development schemes for specialist housing for the elderly (which is self-contained and falling within Use Class C3)

Section 106 agreements

The affordable housing part of development schemes will normally be secured through a legal agreement (a Section 106 Agreement) signed by the relevant parties prior to the granting of planning permission.

Involvement of Registered Providers (RP)

Involving a  early in the process will enable the applicant to better plan the provision of affordable housing in conjunction with the market element of the site. We will expect an applicant to provide the affordable housing for an RP nominated by the us. This will ensure the dwellings are well suited for local needs will be best served by this approach.

The involvement of RPs offers two important safeguards. Firstly, RPs are obliged to have publicly available policies and procedures for allocating properties. These should be open and fair and based on housing need. Secondly, should disposal of RP assets become necessary, it will take place under Homes and Communities Agency.

The price paid for the social rented housing by the RP will depend on the income stream forecast. Due to the limited amount of Social Housing Grant, it is unlikely that grant funding will be available. We strongly advise that the need to provide affordable units and lack of subsidy are taken into consideration when negotiating the price for residential land.

We are unlikely to accept a reduced percentage of social rented units. Should planning applicants raise issues of financial viability, we will require a current detailed viability analysis of the proposal to be submitted alongside any planning application.

We will expect all affordable housing schemes to meet Homes and Communities Scheme Development Standards, including as a minimum Level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

This not only ensures that the affordable housing units are of a consistent standard but in the event that Social Housing Grant becomes available, it is a requirement of the Homes and Communities Agency that schemes comply with these standards.

Tenure type of affordable housing

Housing need in the district can most effectively be met by social rented accommodation, we may consider the inclusion of some intermediate housing units. The 40% overall provision should be made up of 100% affordable rented properties. However in considering the mix of tenure on any qualifying site, the Council would need to ensure that:

  • The type of housing provided will meet an identified need
  • The end cost of the housing must remain genuinely affordable in the longer term

Applicants will be required to provide an affordability schedule which will need to be agreed by the Council to ensure that the homes are affordable.

Unit size requirements

In order to meet housing needs we will require a mix of one, two and three plus bedroom affordable units on sites. The mix of units will be determined on a site by site basis and will have regard to the Housing Register and most recent Housing Needs Survey.

Energy efficiency and renewable technologies

In line with the Essex Design Guide and our Supplementary planning document,  Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (October 2007) (PDF) [225KB] , the use of renewable energy technology is encouraged.

Financial assistance either from the Government or other sources may be available, helping with the cost of installing renewable energy technology or high-energy efficiency systems such as solar water heating, ground source heat pumps, small wind turbines, photovoltaic solar panels, or combined heat and power.