Updated PPS3 now Published June 2011
||13 June 2011
The revisions to the PPS3 Affordable Housing definitions to incorporate the new Affordable Rent tenure were formally published on the 9th June 2011.
The overarching Affordable Housing definition in Annex B remains unaltered except for the inclusion of the Affordable Rent Tenure as Affordable Housing. The main alterations are further down the page of Annex B, including the introduction of a separate description defining the Affordable Rent tenure as follows:
"Rented housing let by registered providers of social housing to households who are eligible for social rented housing. Affordable Rent is not subject to the national rent regime but is subject to other rent controls that require a rent of no more than 80 percent of the local market rent." (PPS3, Annex B, page 25 - emphasis added)
It is of particular significance that Affordable Rent is clearly distinguished from Intermediate housing, not only as a result of being given its own definition, but also as a result of the words included within the Intermediate Affordable Housing definition confirming that it:
"....does not include affordable rented housing."
This challenges the interpretation being applied by many local authorities that where Affordable Rented housing is proposed this will be in lieu of the Intermediate housing element of any proposals, as opposed to the Social Rented element.
This approach now stands corrected, not only through the clear exclusion of Affordable Rent from the Intermediate definition, but also in view of the clarification within the Afforable Rent tenure that it is to be provided to households eligible for Social Rented housing - Intermediate housing is not referred to.
Crucially, this confirms that Affordable Rent is to be promoted as a replacement product for Social Rent, and this fits with the stance within other documents such as the 'Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing' consultation (published November 2010) and the Homes and Communities Agency's 2011 - 2015 Affordable Homes Programme Framework.
Other notable amendments to Annex B include the deletion within Annex B of the paragraph referring the reader to the 'Delivering Affordable Housing' ("DAH") Affordable Housing Policy Statement for further guidance regarding eligibility, subsidy recycling, the features of the tenures and the application of the Affordable Housing definition - a replacement paragraph (which relates specifically and only to Affordable Rent) refers the reader to the HCA Affordable Housing Programme Framework 2011 - 2015.
However, whilst offering some clarification on the official national approach, these amendments also give rise to some key questions and concerns:
- Are we to take the removal of the reference to DAH to infer that the Affordable Housing Policy Statement is no longer applicable when considering the interpretation of Annex B? If so what will replace it in terms of providing guidance to the reader with regards to the non-Affordable Rent Affordable Housing tenures?
- Furthermore, the HCA guidance referred to is not a Policy document that has been subject to consultation and beyond describing the HCA approach to Affordable Rent delivery and grant funding allocation what weight in planning terms does it actually carry?
It is of concern that text in the main body of PPS3 has not been amended to reflect the new definitions. For example, under the sub-heading 'Affordable Housing' paragraph 27 still defines Affordable Housing as including Social Rented and Intermediate housing - Affordable Rent has not been included. Similarly, in paragraph 29 page 11 (initial bullet point on that page) local authorities are told that they 'should' 'where appropriate' set separate targets for Social Rented and Intermediate affordable housing - again reference to Affordable Rent has not been inserted.
These omissions are likely to cause complications when the Affordable Rent tenure is considered by local authorities in terms of whether they are obliged to take the tenure into account within their policies or during Development Control negotiations. Therefore, a key question arising is:
- Is it to be inferred (in the absence of direct confirmation by the Government) that paragraphs 27 and 29 of PPS3 should now to be read as including reference to Affordable Rent (ie by way of Appendix B acting as an errata to the main body of text)?
Pioneer has raised these queries with CLG and hope to receive clarification in due course; we'll keep you updated.
Pioneer is the leading indepedent specialist consultancy to the development industry on housing matters. For further advice or assistance please contact us.