Bristol City Council introduces new affordable housing guidance

New guidance for developers and housebuilders operating in the inner west and east parts of Bristol has been agreed by the council’s cabinet as it looks to boost affordable housing.

The Affordable Housing Practice Note has been introduced as short-term guidance to developers to increase levels of affordable housing in their schemes.

However, the guidance does not represent a new policy and Bristol City Council has stated that it is an interim measure until the Bristol Local Plan is adopted.

“There’s an urgent need for more affordable housing in Bristol, so we’ve been looking closely at what other areas facing similar problems are doing,” said councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing at Bristol City Council.

“Our research has shown that by temporarily reducing the thresholds and offering incentives to developers, we can boost the number of affordable homes that get built.”

The guidance introduces a ‘threshold approach’ to provide developers with a fast-track route through planning, if they are prepared to offer at least 20% affordable housing on sites in the inner west and east zones.

However, this is only available if developers start work on schemes within 18 months of planning consent.

The current requirement for affordable housing in Bristol is set at 40% in certain areas, but the council said that this was often not met due to barriers such as financial viability issues.

“It could seem counterintuitive to lower the threshold for affordable housing in order to get more built, but this approach has worked well elsewhere,” added Cllr Smith.

“At the heart of it, is a commitment to working more closely, offering flexibility and speeding up the planning process for developers who will commit to the delivery of a minimum number of affordable homes.

“We want to see the 40% targets being met, but it always takes a long time to introduce new policies that offer a radical approach to housing delivery and because of that we are looking at ways we can make immediate changes.

“Before the local plan is adopted, we have an opportunity to accelerate the supply of affordable homes from current low levels.


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