Affordable Housing

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Future proofing the delivery of affordable housing in the West of England

The West of England Partnership, sponsored by the South West Improvement and Efficiency Programme, has commissioned a study of different options for 'future proofing' Section 106 Agreements aimed at delivering more affordable homes across the area.

The study is now complete the final report prepared by Ark Housing Consultancy can be downloaded by clicking here.

The report provides guidance on options to:

  • Maximise affordable housing contributions through the recession and beyond;
  • Ensure that site viability on multi-phased developments is not fixed at the bottom of the market so that affordable housing delivery increases alongside market improvement;
  • Provide a robust framework for reviewing affordable housing contributions at different stages of a development; and
  • Identify other innovative approaches to unlocking stalled schemes through collaborative working.

Background and purpose of the study

In recent years the provision of affordable housing has become highly dependent on the pace which the development industry can build homes. The planning process is therefore key to securing affordable housing. The principle mechanism is through Section 106 Agreements attached to planning permissions. These agreements specify the number, size, type, tenure, location and phasing of affordable housing and other ‘planning obligations’ necessary for the development to proceed.

However negotiating agreements has become very challenging and time consuming in the current economic downturn, with many schemes having stalled due to viability problems.  Now, more so than ever, a collaborative approach between the authorities and the development industry is essential in trying to overcome these barriers whilst ensuring the quality of completed developments.

One of the ways in which the authorities are seeking to work collaboratively with developers is by adopting a more flexible approach to negotiating Section 106 agreements; one which responds to the changing housing market and viability factors over the lifetime of a scheme in order to maximise affordable housing provision.

A ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work. The West of England Partnership and the two neighbouring authorities of Mendip and Wiltshire Council’s, which comprise the Strategic Housing Market Area, have worked collaboratively to look at a range of options which are available for delivering affordable housing through the planning process.

Future work by the authorities in this area

In addition to making this report publicly available the West of England authorities want to exchange good practice and other ideas with our partners. We will be shortly announcing details of a Business Breakfast for the Development Industry which will explore how best to take this work forward.

Future Proofing Affordable Housing Event

A breakfast briefing on Future Proofing Affordable Housing in the West of England was held on the 21st March 2011, at the Pavillion, 1 Hannover Quay, Harbourside, Bristol.

To view the presentations from the event please click here.

Future Information and Advice

For more details on the project and how to get involved in any further work in this area please contact: Ian Collinson, Head of Spatial Planning, West of England Partnership

T: 0117 9036211



Please note that the attached report was written and prepared by Ark Housing Consultancy, on behalf of the four West of England authorities, Mendip District Council and Wiltshire Council. It represents research of good practice and offers practice advice only.  It does not signify the adopted views of any of the commissioning authorities and should not be construed as a policy document.


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