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Zero affordable housing in major new Bristol development

Photo: Gloomy Corp
City

Application includes no houses for affordable or social rent.

Photo: Gloomy Corp

A planning application for a major development recently submitted to Bristol City Council includes zero affordable housing units. The application submitted by Change Real Estate includes 274 units for rent or sale at market prices but none at reduced rates, despite the Council targets of 30-40% in developments of this size. The £180 million development of “Redcliff Quarter” is still subject to negotiation with council officers and approval by councillors. However, councils face unfavourable planning regulations and are under pressure from Government to approve new developments quickly, and with limited burden on property developers.

In what will be a major test for new Mayor Marvin Rees, the Housing Bill is expected to become law shortly, heralding a further limitation in local government’s bargaining position over developers. Mr Rees has pledged to make addressing the housing crisis a top priority.

 

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  • I can’t help but feel that this article is a little disingenuous. A development of this size needs to have a certain amount of affordable housing provision, so if that housing is not provided within the development itself then the developer will need to agree to fund this elsewhere. I’m pretty sure that payment in itself would be worth millions of pounds to the council, which would be designated to be spent on affordable housing. Insisting that every development in a city had affordable housing within it would ensure that practically no large scale housing developments would ever be built again

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  • This planning application cannot be a challenge for the new Mayor Marvin Rees and here’s why. The Mayor of Bristol has limits to their power. This is a good thing. In particular they are expressly EXCLUDED from planning and licensing. This is one of the checks and balances to stop the Mayor becoming a bribable dictator. So the Mayor has no involvement AT ALL in planning and licensing. Councillors who sit on Planning and licensing are there to implement local planning law but not as councillors – as lay legal people like magistrates. Planning and Licensing are called “quasi-judicial committees”. WTF. They apply and dispense planning law on a case by case basis. Indeed they are required to have an “open mind” as each application is heard. If they express a view on an application before the meeting they are excluded from that meeting. This also means they cannot vote on party lines. Should they do so – the applicant would simply appeal and they would win the appeal hands down. Developers are supposed/required to pay a levy to the council to ameliorate the impact of their developments on the local area. F’rinstance build old people’s flats and the developer could be asked to pay for a zebra crossing nearby. This levy was called Section 106, now Community Infrastructure Levy. Many councils asked for this to be “paid” in flats – asked the developer to make a percentage of the flats “affordable” to the value of the levy. This became the norm. BUT during the recession (the Global recession) developers begged to be let off having to pay and claimed this would make their projects unviable. Councillors on Planning across the country bought these tears (crocodile tears) and let them off. So now it’s going to be harder to get developers to pay the levy that is due as their mates got away with it. This is NOT a challenge for Marvin – he absolutely cannot touch it. The affordable housing he wants will have to be achieved in other ways. The council has no money for house building – you need government money for big schemes. But the council does own land. In the recent past the council has dealt with volume housebuilders giving away the land in return for a housing estate that has a good proportion of affordable homes on it. Mallard Close in St George is an example.

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