Brighton & Hove

Developers missing affordable housing targets may have to disclose finances

Property developers may have to publicly disclose financial information in cases where they say they cannot meet the affordable housing targets set out in Brighton & Hove council’s city plan.

The council currently requires developments of five or more residential units to provide a percentage of affordable housing – unless such a measure would make a scheme financially unviable.

All schemes with more than 15 units should provide 40% affordable housing.

At present, developers are submitting viability assessments to the council, which are then independently assessed by the District Valuer Services (DVS).

The viability information and the independent assessment aren’t currently disclosed to the public in order to protect commercial confidentiality.

This has resulted in public concern on schemes where reduced affordable housing provision has been granted by the council on grounds of viability.

The authority is now proposing that developers should show their sums in applications which fall short of the affordable housing target.

Councillors are being urged to approve the new requirements in a report to the tourism, development and culture committee on 11th January, following the public consultation on the issue that was held in the autumn.

The majority of respondents believed the measures would lead to greater transparency, understanding and trust in the planning system.

Cllr Alan Robins, committee chair, said: “In many cases, there may be perfectly good reasons why a developer cannot meet 40%.

“For example, a council might want them to pay for other things, such as a new leisure centre. 

“But sometimes, developers might be trying their luck by raising viability issues.

“Either way, it could be beneficial for the public to have the same information as councillors on the planning committee, so that everyone understands why a given amount of affordable housing was accepted or rejected.”

If approved, the new requirements could be introduced early this year.

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