Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document

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(4) 5 HOUSING

Local Plan Policies

Other relevant Strategies & Guidance

  • SP8: Housing
  • HS2: Affordable housing
  • HS3: Housing mix
  • HS4: Supported, sheltered and older persons housing
  • HS5: Accessible and adaptable housing
  • Site-specific development criteria

  • Housing Strategy
  • Homelessness Strategy
  • Tenancy Strategy

5.1 Policy context

5.1.1 The NPPF stresses the importance of addressing the needs of groups with specific requirements for housing[15].

5.1.2 The Council's overall planning approach to Affordable Housing is set out in Policy HS2 of the Local Plan and supporting text. This section of the SPD provides additional information to aid interpretation of these requirements.

5.1.3 Further information on the Council's approach to Affordable Housing is set out in our Housing Strategy and Tenancy Strategy. These, and other relevant documents, including the latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment, are provided on our website. Where relevant, this section of the SPD makes reference to the latest findings from these reports. However, these documents may be updated over the lifetime of this SPD and should always be referred to for the most up-to-date information.

5.1.4 Policies HS4 and HS5 contain specific requirements relating to housing for older persons and accessibility respectively.

5.2 Affordable Housing

Demonstrating compliance with Affordable Housing requirements

5.2.1 We encourage the submission of an Affordable Housing Statement alongside any relevant planning applications to demonstrate how the requirements of the Local Plan and this SPD have been met. Alternately, the approach to Affordable Housing should be clearly set out as a distinct section within one or more of the following documents (as applicable):

  • Design & Access Statement
  • Planning Statement
  • Environmental Statement

5.2.2 The following details set out the Councils expectations in line with policy HS2 of the Local Plan. All expectations set out below will be secured in a legal agreement in any potential approval of a relevant application. In the event of an outline planning application with all or most matters reserved, these matters will remain secured in a legal agreement, up to, including and not limited to amount, tenure, mix and design.

Calculating the Affordable Housing requirement (Policy HS2(a)(i))

5.2.3 Policy HS2 sets the following target percentages of dwellings to be affordable:

Size of site (gross dwellings)

Target % of Affordable Housing

11-14 dwellings

25%

15-24 dwellings

35%

25+

40%

5.2.4 When calculating the number of affordable units, the general approach will be to round the requirement to the nearest whole number. Where the requirement is subject to rounding up, the target levels of Policy HS2 may be slightly exceeded. As a general principle, and having regard to the findings of our evidence[16], this approach is unlikely to affect scheme viability. Subject to the exceptions below, the Council will not entertain viability appraisals or attempts to reduce the Affordable Housing contribution on this ground alone.

5.2.5 The impact of rounding the requirement can be more significant for smaller sites given the low numbers of units involved. We specifically recognise the potential impact upon schemes of 11, 14, 16 and 19 units. In these instances we will determine the most appropriate approach having regard to:

  • The nature of the scheme;
  • The tenure of any proposed Affordable Housing products; and
  • The proposed / potential Affordable Housing floorspace as a proportion of the overall development, particularly where larger units are proposed for private sale with smaller units proposed as the Affordable Housing contribution.

5.2.6 These factors will also be considered in other instances where the proposed Affordable Housing contribution does not comply with policy.

Off-site provision of Affordable Housing

5.2.7 Where the off-site provision of Affordable Housing or a financial contribution is agreed in principle (see below), the requirements of Policy HS2 should be met when viewing the application site and the 'donor' site(s) (or other agreed alternate form(s) of contribution) as a single entity.

5.2.8 A scheme for 100 units would normally generate an on-site requirement for 40 affordable homes, with the remaining 60 homes available for market sale (40 / 100 = 40%).

5.2.9 However, a scheme of 100 market sale homes with no on-site Affordable Housing would require off-site provision or a financial contribution equivalent to 67 affordable units to make the same contribution: (67 / (67+100) = 40%).

5.2.10 The table below summarises the equivalent percentages required to meet the targets in Policy HS2 where fully off-site provision or a commuted payment is to be made.

Size of site (gross dwellings)

Target % of Affordable Housing (on-site)

Off-site equivalent

11-14 dwellings

25% of all dwellings

33% of market homes

15-24 dwellings

35% of all dwellings

54% of market homes

25+

40% of all dwellings

67% of market homes

5.2.11 We will use bespoke calculations where it is agreed that the Affordable Housing is to be split between on-site and off-site provision.

Provision involving existing Affordable Housing

5.2.12 Where existing Affordable Housing is to be demolished or otherwise lost, we will normally expect that existing units will be replaced on a one-for-one basis with the targets of Policy HS2 then applied to any net additional units.

5.2.13 Exceptions to this approach will be considered on a case-by-case basis, for example when a scheme proposes replacement units that better meet identified Affordable Housing needs or where private sale units will cross-subsidise the scheme.

Vacant Building Credit

5.2.14 National policy provides an incentive for brownfield development on sites containing vacant buildings. This requires Affordable Housing requirements to be reduced based on the quantity of floorspace being brought back into use or replaced.

5.2.15 Vacant Building Credit is intended to incentivise the re-use of buildings or sites that would otherwise remain vacant or become derelict. It is not intended as a back-door means of reducing Affordable Housing contributions on otherwise viable sites.

5.2.16 Where Vacant Building Credit is applied for, the applicant should follow the principles set out for employment uses in Local Plan Policy ETC2(i) and provide evidence that the building has been actively marketed for its current use for a period of at least twelve months without success prior to submission of a planning application. This should demonstrate that the marketing has been conducted appropriately given the terms and rental / sales values compared to other similar properties.

5.2.17 Vacant Building Credit will not be applied where the above conditions are not met.

Viability

5.2.18 Our overall approach to viability is set out in Policy SP7 of the Local Plan and Section 2.8 of this SPD. Where a developer seeks to reduce Affordable Housing below target levels on viability grounds, the appraisal should demonstrate the impact of full compliance with the Affordable Housing Requirements in the Local Plan and this SPD on a 'nil grant' basis.

5.2.19 Any departure from policy compliant Affordable Housing provision on viability grounds will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis having regards to the findings of the viability study, scheme-specific circumstances and the potential for any alternate and / or reduced forms of contribution towards Affordable Housing.

On-site vs. off-site provision (Policy HS2(a)(ii))

5.2.20 Our presumption is strongly in favour of Affordable Housing provision being made on site. Although some sites will deliver relatively low numbers of affordable homes, Registered Providers operating in the District are normally willing to take these on as part of their wider portfolio.

5.2.21 We recognise that there can be specific circumstances where it is not possible or appropriate to make Affordable Housing provision on site. This might include in some smaller flatted developments or where specialised accommodation within Use Class C3 is being provided.

5.2.22 Any (proposed) departures from on-site provision will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Where it is accepted that on-site provision is not feasible, we will first seek provision on an alternate site. If this is not possible, we will seek a commuted sum in lieu of provision.

Approach to off-site provision

5.2.23 Off-site provision may be an appropriate alternative where an alternate site is in possession of, or can be reasonably acquired or otherwise accessed by, the applicant who can then deliver affordable homes upon it in partnership with a Registered Provider in the normal way. The Affordable Housing provision on the 'donor' site will need to comply with relevant planning policies and the requirements of this SPD. It will normally be secured with an appropriate clause(s) in the legal agreement and / or Grampian condition on the principal site to ensure delivery of both schemes.

5.2.24 The 'donor' site should be reasonably related to the application site. In considering the acceptability of potential alternate sites, we will have regard to the approach taken by the Local Plan to Rural Exception sites. Alternate sites should normally be located within both a 15-minute drive time and a 30-minute journey time using passenger transport of the principal application site.

Commuted sums

5.2.25 Where it is accepted that a commuted sum is required, the starting point for negotiation will be an equivalent payment sufficient to deliver the Affordable Housing requirement on an alternate site:

  • The Affordable Housing requirement will be calculated in line with the requirements set out in this section of the SPD;
  • The cost per required affordable unit (the unit cost) will be based upon the provision of a 2-bed house (including land);
  • The unit cost will be derived from the costs set out in the Council's most recent District-wide viability assessment.

5.2.26 At the time of writing this approach gives a unit cost of £123,000 [17].

C2 Uses and affordable housing

5.2.27 For the purposes of the new Plan, the Council has treated the need for and provision of housing within use-class C3 separately from the need for and provision of more specialist accommodation within use-class C2. The overall housing requirement and references to dwelling estimates for the Strategic Housing Sites and Local Housing Allocations are for C3 uses only. The Plan relies on delivery of the housing allocations with policy-compliant affordable housing to meet future market and affordable housing needs in full.

5.2.28 Requirements for C2 uses are set out separately and in addition. A minimum target for the overall provision of C2 bedspaces is set in Policy SP8(g).

5.2.29 The Council will not normally seek the provision of affordable housing or affordable housing contributions from:

  • C2 uses where they satisfy a specific policy requirement on Strategic Sites; or
  • C2 uses on windfall sites not identified in the Plan

5.2.30 However, where a C2 use is otherwise proposed on a site allocated in the Plan for housing, the Council will seek a commuted sum for affordable housing that compensates for any loss of affordable housing units that might otherwise have been provided if the site had been fully developed for C3 use in accordance with the Plan.

5.2.31 The relevant sum will be calculated on a case-by-case basis using the dwelling estimate and affordable housing policies in the Plan and the guidance above on commuted sums.

Expenditure of commuted sums for Affordable Housing

5.2.32 Any specific provisions relating to the expenditure of the commuted sum, including time limits, will be set out in the s106 agreement. In general terms, commuted sums for Affordable Housing might reasonably be spent upon (but is not necessarily limited to):

  • The delivery of additional affordable units on other s106 schemes;
  • The provision of new affordable homes on (up to) 100% Affordable Housing schemes by the Council or a Registered Provider;
  • The acquisition of (serviced) land to facilitate such schemes;
  • The adaptation or modification of existing stock to meet standards and / or specific identified housing needs;
  • The acquisition of homes on the open market for Affordable Housing; or
  • The provision of other forms of housing providing homeless or temporary accommodation;

5.2.33 Specific projects may be identified in our Housing Strategy or other relevant documents and expenditure can take place anywhere in the District regardless of the location of the development to which the commuted sum relates.

Ensuring affordability (Policy HS2(a)(iii))

5.2.34 Housing affordability is a significant issue in the District. The ratios of house prices to earnings are at the highest levels ever recorded. Even with discounts applied, rents and purchase requirements for intermediate products remain difficult to afford for many households.

5.2.35 The Local Plan recognises that it will be necessary to introduce rental caps at below 80% of market rates to ensure affordability, particularly for larger units. Our approach to rents, and seeking to ensure the affordability of all Affordable Housing products, is set out in our Housing Strategy and Tenancy Strategy. We currently require the following rental levels:

  • 1 & 2 bed properties: 80% of market rents
  • 3 bed properties: 70% of market rents
  • 4 bed properties: social rents

5.2.36 All rents are to be within Local Housing Allowance Rates. Rents for 1-, 2- and 3-bed properties should achieve the percentages above inclusive of any service charges, management fees or similar.

5.2.37 The requirements in the Plan are based upon households allocating 35% of their gross income to housing. Applicants should demonstrate that any intermediate products, including the initial purchase percentage(s), will be affordable on this basis having regard to local income and house price data. House prices vary significantly across North Hertfordshire and district-wide price averages will generally not be considered an appropriate basis for making these calculations. In determining the affordability of products, any service charges, management fees or similar which may be applied should be included.

5.2.38 For shared ownership units, applicants should be able to purchase an initial equity share in the property of between 25% and 75%. The rent on unsold equity will be capped at 2.75% in accordance with Homes England requirements.

5.2.39 Due to the high cost of housing throughout the District, some forms of intermediate tenure products are considered unlikely to meet the affordability requirements of the Plan. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, discounted market sales housing and Starter Homes.

5.2.40 The Government recognises that shared ownership products can be hard to replace, particularly in rural areas. To address this issue, regulations identify Designated Protection Areas[18]. Within these, any shared ownership products will be required to restrict 'staircasing' to a maximum 80% equity share in the property.

5.2.41 Where applicable, these requirements will be incorporated into the legal agreement. The following parishes within North Hertfordshire are currently Designated Protection Areas:

  • Ashwell
  • Barkway
  • Barley
  •  Bygrave
  • Caldecote
  • Clothall
  • Codicote
  • Graveley
  • Hexton
  • Hinxworth
  • Holwell
  • Ickleford
  • Kelshall
  • Kimpton
  • Kings Walden
  • Langley

  • Lilley
  • Newnham
  • Nuthampstead
  • Offley
  • Pirton
  • Preston
  • Radwell
  • Reed
  • Rushden
  • Sandon
  • St Pauls Walden
  • Therfield
  • Wallington
  • Weston
  • Wymondley

Affordable Housing tenures (Policy HS2(b)(i))

5.2.42 Local Plan policy requires 65% of Affordable Housing units to be for rent with the remaining 35% other forms of Affordable Housing. The definition of the various housing types considered to be Affordable Housing is set out in Annex 2 of the NPPF.

5.2.43 When calculating the required tenure split, the number of rented units will normally be rounded to the nearest whole number. The number of intermediate units will normally represent the balance of the overall requirement.

5.2.44 On schemes of 25 units or more it should be possible to deliver the tenure split required by Policy HS2.

5.2.45 On schemes of less than 25 units, or in other instances where less than 10 Affordable Housing units are proposed or agreed, we will consider the most appropriate approach to tenure mix on a case-by-case basis having regard to the above advice. It may not, for example, be desirable for a scheme to deliver a single intermediate unit. Equally, it may not be practical to deliver affordable rented units within a small block of flats.

5.2.46 The most appropriate mix of intermediate products will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis having regard to relevant evidence (including upon affordability) and the type and size of Affordable Housing product(s) proposed by the applicant or otherwise considered realistic in the context of the site and overall scheme.

5.2.47 The NPPF allows for self-build housing to be Affordable Housing. For this to be the case, the self-build must fall within one of the Affordable Housing types contained in the NPPF definition. Where any self-build housing is accepted as being a form of Affordable Housing (and vice versa) it will count towards any relevant policy targets or requirements for both forms of provision. Self build not falling within the NPPF definition of Affordable Housing will not count towards, or otherwise be offset against, the Affordable Housing requirement.

Evidence of housing need (Policy HS2(b)(ii))

5.2.48 The starting point for evidencing Affordable Housing need is the Council's latest Strategic Housing Market Assessment. This provides advice on overall requirements and advised tenure and mix requirements for the whole District. We supplement data from district-wide studies, with more localised information.

5.2.49 Prospective applicants should contact the Council's Housing team for up-to-date housing register data. We work with Hertfordshire County Council's Adults Supported Accommodation Strategic Board to identify and address specific housing needs. Surveys for individual parishes are conducted in partnership with Parish Councils and Community Development Action's Rural Housing Enabler. Applicants should have regard to the findings for any up-to-date Parish surveys relevant to their site. Where a prospective applicant is considering bringing forward a significant scheme in a parish where there is no survey, or the survey is out of date, they should liaise with the Council at the earliest opportunity to determine whether it is practicable to produce or update a survey in advance of the submission of an application.

5.2.50 Where an applicant is considering gathering their own evidence to inform the assessment of housing needs for their own project(s), we encourage early engagement with the Council's Housing Team to ensure any survey is appropriately defined.

5.2.51 Any findings from the above will help inform whether there is justification to depart from the general tenure and mix requirements set out in the Local Plan and this SPD on a case-by-case basis.

5.2.52 Applicants will need to demonstrate compliance with any additional or alternate requirements in Neighbourhood Plans that are brought forward following adoption of the Local Plan[19].

Affordable Housing Mix (Policy HS2(b)(v))

5.2.53 The aim of the Plan is to meet assessed district-wide needs for Affordable Housing over the period to 2031. The starting point for consideration of appropriate housing mix will therefore be our most recent Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

5.2.54 The current SHMA concludes that the requirements for Affordable Housing are split on an almost 50% / 50% basis between smaller (1- and 2-bed) and larger (3+bed) units. However, in calculating these requirements, it is assumed that current patterns of occupation will continue. Our Housing Strategy recognises there is evidence of 'under-occupation' of the existing Affordable Housing stock within the District. This is a particular issue with 3-bed homes given their prevalence across North Hertfordshire. The Local Plan recognises that increasing the proportion of smaller homes may, in particular, provide additional opportunities for older households to downsize. Most households in the top preference bands of the Council's Housing Register require smaller homes.

5.2.55 Reflecting these facts, we may seek a slightly higher proportion of smaller (1- or 2-bed) Affordable Housing units and a slightly lower proportion of 3-bed Affordable Housing units than suggested by a straight reading of the SHMA.

5.2.56 As set out above, we will consider whether any specific, local evidence justifies a departure from this general guidance on a case-by-case basis.

5.2.57 In considering the suitability of the proposed Affordable Housing mix, we will also have regard to other relevant policies of the Plan. Please refer to the following sections of this chapter in relation to self-build, older persons housing and housing accessibility.

Affordable Housing Design

5.2.58 Wherever practicable, affordable housing design should be tenure blind. It should be physically indistinguishable from the market housing and on larger sites be distributed across the site in small clusters, rather than concentrated on one of two parts of the site. Affordable Housing should be distributed in a way which ensures that access to key facilities such as schools, local shops and open space is equivalent to that provided for market homes.

5.2.59 Policy D1 of the Local Plan states that new homes must meet the Government's minimum nationally described space standards. In some instances, space requirements for Affordable Housing may be set at a higher level. Where there is conflict between two (or more) standards, the highest (most spacious) will be applied to the Affordable Housing.

5.2.60 The Local Plan requires that, where more than 10 Affordable Housing units are to be provided, 10% of these should be to the higher M4(3) wheelchair user standard. This requirement is in addition to the M4(2) standards above. The 10% requirement will be rounded to the nearest whole number based upon the Affordable Housing requirement. These should be provided within rented tenure units and to wheelchair accessible standards wherever possible. Where this approach is not considered viable (and subject to the general guidance on viability in the Local Plan and this SPD), we will consider whether provision of units to the wheelchair adaptable standard is an appropriate alternative.

Registered Providers

5.2.61 There are a large number of Registered Providers operating within the District. We do not have a preferred partner, nor do we recommend partners. We are able to provide contacts and facilitate introductions where required. The transfer of the Affordable Housing to the Registered Provider will normally be subject to a separate agreement with the applicant / developer. The Registered Provider will not normally be a signatory to the legal agreement.

5.2.62 Some forms of Affordable Housing do not need to be delivered by a Registered Provider. Where this is the case, we will consider whether it is appropriate to secure a bond or other form of guarantee in the legal agreement. Where the Council cannot secure nomination rights in accordance with the guidance below, we may request that the legal agreement restricts occupancy to households who cannot compete in the housing market.

Content of the legal agreement in relation to Affordable Housing

5.2.63 The key provisions relating to Affordable Housing will be secured through the S106 legal agreement and, to the extent that is appropriate, any associated Nomination Agreement. It is expected that the legal agreement will normally contain (but is not necessarily limited to) the following information:

  • The overall amount of Affordable Housing to be provided;
  • Details of the tenure and type of Affordable Housing to be provided;
  • Details of any specific standards to be met by the Affordable Housing
  • Details of any trigger points for the construction and / or transfer of the Affordable Housing;
  • Any Mortgagee in possession (or other similar) clauses to safeguard the provision of Affordable Housing;
  • Any specific requirements in relation to nomination rights, lettings and cascades including qualifying persons and local connection criteria (see below); and
  • Details of any applicable staircasing restrictions.

5.2.64 Where development is anticipated to occur over a number of phases, the provision of Affordable Housing should not normally be backloaded into later phases. This will be addressed through the inclusion of appropriate trigger points in the legal agreement.

5.2.65 Where outline permission is sought on an "up to…" basis, we may seek to secure a guaranteed minimum number of Affordable Housing units within the legal agreement. This is to ensure that the anticipated provision of Affordable Housing is not subsequently undermined (for example by submission of a detailed application for an alternate use on part of the same site).

Nomination rights, lettings and cascades

5.2.66 The District Council will normally seek to secure 100% of initial nomination rights and at least 75% of nomination rights for subsequent re-lets. Nominations will be made in accordance with the Common Housing Allocations Scheme or any successor.

5.2.67 For development East of Luton (Local Plan Policy SP19), we will take this approach to a number of Affordable Housing units which will be calculated as follows:

Agreed site-wide Affordable Housing provision (%) x 150

5.2.68 This reflects the amount of that development required to meet the District's own housing needs. Initial nomination rights for the balance of the secured Affordable Housing will be reserved for applicants on Luton Borough Council's Housing Register or joint housing register as may be agreed. Any subsequent nominations will return to North Hertfordshire District Council.

5.2.69 Insofar as is practicable, the units designated to each authority will contain a proportionate mix of tenures, unit sizes and accessibility adaptation consistent with the overall requirements of our policies and this SPD.

5.2.70 In the event of any future developments that are specifically intended to meet the unmet housing requirements of another Local Planning Authority, a similar approach will be taken.

5.2.71 In the rural Designated Protection Areas, we normally operate the following cascade to prioritise the allocation of affordable housing:

  • Applicants from within the Parish;
  • Applicants from adjoining Parishes;
  • Applicants from other rural parishes in North Hertfordshire;
  • Applicants from elsewhere in the District.

5.2.72 This approach will normally be continued on smaller rural sites. However, some rural parishes have significant development allocations in the new Local Plan – either because they physically adjoin larger towns or because they have been identified as locations capable of meeting a wider-than-local need. In the following parishes and for the following developments we will determine the most appropriate cascade mechanism on a case-by-case basis:

  • Barkway – Site BK3
  • Bygrave – Site BA1
  • Clothall – Sites BA2 and BA3
  • Graveley – Site NS1
  • Ickleford – Site IC3
  • Offley – Sites EL1, EL2 & EL3
  • Weston – Site GA2
  • Wymondley – Site WY1

Subsequent occupiers

5.2.73 The measures above will normally secure the Affordable Housing provision on new development sites for subsequent occupiers. However, it is recognised that some units may eventually be lost from the Affordable Housing stock through Right to Buy, by achieving 100% ownership of intermediate products through 'staircasing' or through any additional or successor arrangements.

5.2.74 Presently, these rights and the recycling of monies received through these events are subject to their own regulation and will not normally need to be reflected in the legal agreement.

Deeds of variation

5.2.75 We sometimes receive applications to vary the conditions of the legal agreement following completion of the scheme and / or its transfer to the Registered Provider. In the past, these have mainly related to shared ownership units and / or the cascade mechanism where it has not been possible to allocate the Affordable Housing within the terms of the original agreement. In turn, this is often linked to the (un)affordability of the products.

5.2.76 By following the requirements of our Local Plan policies and the guidance in this SPD and other relevant strategies, the need to vary the legal agreement should only arise in exceptional circumstances.

5.2.77 Any Deed of Variation applications should be accompanied by robust evidence, including upon viability where relevant and follow the principles set out Section 2 of this document.

Review mechanisms (Policy HS2(c)(ii))

5.2.78 The general approach to review mechanisms for legal agreements is set out in Section 2 of this SPD. Where viability improves such as to trigger a review, we will take a fair and proportionate approach. Affordable Housing targets will be applied to the remaining phases or quanta of development at the point of review in line with the requirements of Policy HS2 and this SPD. We will not normally use review mechanisms to seek above target levels of Affordable Housing provision on future phases of development in order to make up for previous shortfalls.

5.3 Self-build

5.3.1 Our policies require that 1% of plots on Strategic Housing Sites are reserved for self-build. We will have regard to the self-build register and encourage the provision of self-build plots on other sites where there is proven evidence of demand. Neighbourhood Plans may set requirements for self-build. Councils may additionally need to have regard to statutory requirements relating to self-build in other, non-planning functions such as land disposal.

5.3.2 The delivery of self-build sites, or proportion of sites as self-build opportunities, brings complexities, as detailed below. Considering the depth of considerations for the appropriate delivery of self-build housing, it is highly likely that any approval of such housing will require planning obligations, rather than conditions, to secure the details of delivery. As a result, guidance in what is required to be considered in delivery of self-build housing is set out below to inform heads of terms and eventual agreed obligations.

5.3.3 For the purposes of planning policy, Custom and Self-build dwellings share the same definition and the terms can be used interchangeably. Custom Build is where a person appoints a specialist developer to help build their own home. Self-build is where a person is more directly involved in organising and constructing their own home.

5.3.4 Where self-build plots are to be delivered we will secure, by legal agreement or condition as appropriate in each instance:

  • The number and location of plots to be delivered for self-build;
  • The trigger point(s) for the provision and / or marketing of the serviced plots;
  • The transfer of the plots where the developer does not wish to retain or market them for self-build;
  • The means by which detailed permission(s) for the self-build plots shall be obtained;
  • Reversion clauses or similar allowing for the return of the plot to the developer and / or the use of any unsold self-build plots for other forms of housing; and / or
  • Time limits for the commencement and / or completion of development on any self-build plots.

5.3.5 The Council maintains a Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Register in accordance with relevant regulations. This contains details of persons interested in acquiring plots of land for self-build.

5.3.6 The Council's preference is that developers will conduct the marketing and sale of any self-build plots themselves. In these instances, those on the Register will be asked to give their consent to be contacted by the developer. The Council will not be directly involved in disposing of the plots.

5.3.7 Where the developer does not wish to market self-build plots themselves, the freehold of the area that will contain the serviced plots should be transferred to the Council for a nominal sum. This sum may include the recovery of a reasonable proportion of the S106 costs attached to the site as a whole and / or the costs of providing services to those plots where this occurs prior to, or as a condition of, the transfer. The Council will then undertake the marketing and sale of the plots.

5.3.8 Prior to the marketing of any self-build plots, the body responsible for their disposal shall secure an appropriate permission or planning framework for the whole of the self-build area detailing:

  • The highway layout
  • The provision of services;
  • Any incidental or communal landscaping, open space or similar;
  • The extent of the individual self-build plots
  • The unit type of the individual self-build plots
  • Vehicular access and parking provision
  • Key design parameters including
    • Fixed positions or zones for front and rear facades
    • Maximum building heights
    • Maximum internal floor areas
  • A palette of materials

5.3.9 This approach strikes a reasonable balance between individuality and ensuring the site as a whole remains coherent in design terms. The permission should be sufficiently flexible to allow for innovative design and methods of construction. It should also ensure sufficient scope remains for future plot owners to have a meaningful input into the final design of their home. The factors above may be identified and / or secured through a design code (or similar) attached to a hybrid application[20].

5.3.10 The Council will consider whether it is expedient to introduce a Local Development Order, or other form of simplified planning framework, for self-build areas on a case-by-case basis.

5.3.11 Any marketing period should be of sufficient length to give interested parties reasonable opportunity to investigate likely acquisition and build costs and draw together appropriate funding. This may include securing in principle agreements for finance and / or quotes or expressions of interest from builders or developers to deliver the scheme where they will seek assistance in building their home. Plots should be made available at a reasonable market value so as to encourage, rather than deter, their uptake.

5.3.12 Our expectation is that any reversion clause will allow for a minimum two-year marketing period for self-build. Shorter periods will only be entertained when the applicant expects the remainder of the site to be completed more quickly. On Strategic sites, or other schemes where development is to be phased, it may be appropriate to seek longer clauses to maximise the opportunity for self-build plots to be taken up.

5.3.13 In all instances, self-build plots should be delivered in a timeframe that is compatible with the delivery of the site as a whole. Equally it is necessary to ensure that the site can be fully built out in the absence of interest in (all of) the self-build plots; unbuilt or incomplete plots on an otherwise completed scheme would detract from the Government's aim to create high quality places.



[15] NPPF Paragraph 59

[16] North Hertfordshire District Council Local Plan Viability Assessment Update 2016 (Dixon Searle Partnership (DSP))

[17] Taken from North Hertfordshire District Council Local Plan Viability Assessment Update 2016 (DSP). Figure based upon: a base build cost for a 79m2 2-bed home at £1,190/m2; £4,500 site prep and survey costs; a 17% uplift on the base build cost for contingencies, fees and sustainable design & construction standards; £2,447 to achieve M4(2) accessibility compliance; and £9,250 to purchase 1/40th hectare of land at assumed greenfield enhancement value of £370,000 per hectare. Total rounded to nearest £1,000.

[18] The Housing (Right to Enfranchise) (Designated Protected Areas) (England) Order 2009

[19] If policies in an adopted Local Plan conflict with policies in an adopted Neighbourhood Plan (or vice versa) the most recent plan policy takes precedence.

[20] In this instance, the final, detailed design of individual homes may be secured through a discharge of condition application (or similar) by the intended occupier upon, or prior to, acquisition of the plot.

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