Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Supplementary Memorandum submitted by the Campaign for National Parks (GIB 47)

Growth and Infrastructure Bill (clause 5)

When we gave evidence to the Bill Committee on 20 November 2012, we offered to send a further written response to the question that Nick Raynsford MP asked us about clause 5 (Q378). We share the concerns expressed by the English National Park Authorities Association (ENPAA) regarding the serious implications that this clause could have for the provision of affordable housing in National Parks and the fact that it could potentially seriously limit the ability of National Park Authorities (NPAs) to deliver new affordable housing.

The way in which S106 agreements are used to deliver affordable housing in National Parks, and many other rural areas, is different from that in which they are often used in urban areas or on larger sites, where a S106 agreement is usually used to require the developer to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing. In National Parks, the vast majority of planning approvals for housing include S106 agreements which require 100% affordable and/or ‘local needs’ housing. S106 agreements are also often used to ensure that the properties are available to meet local housing need ‘in perpetuity’ i.e. there are restrictions on who they can be sold on to. This is because there are usually very few sites available for development and those that are available are only suitable for a very small number of homes. As there is huge pressure for second homes and/or holiday homes in National Parks, NPAs generally have policies to prevent the delivery of new housing for sale on the open market. The effect of these policies should be reflected in the price of land available for housing and any prospective developer should be aware of these restrictions before purchasing land.

The proposals in clause 5 which would mean that a developer could ask for the S106 agreement to be overturned after planning permission was granted on the grounds that this made the development unviable, could result in no new affordable housing being delivered in National Parks, as developers will be able to make far more profit on houses sold on the open market. They could also lead to developers seeking to overturn S106 agreements on properties that have already been built and would certainly lead to an increase in the cost of land available for housing in National Parks. All of these changes would have a serious detrimental impact on the amount of affordable housing in National Parks.

We are keen to ensure that NPAs can continue to deliver affordable housing effectively and have discussed the need for evidence to illustrate the potential difficulties caused by clause 5 with our members in the National Park Societies. The only way that they would be able to provide comprehensive evidence on this issue would be by using information obtained from the NPAs. We understand that ENPAA is already collating this evidence in order to submit it to the Committee.

November 2012

Prepared 1st December 2012