Challenging the viability of building on the Sutton Coldfield green belt
Sutton Coldfield green belt. Photo Courtesy of Martin O'Connell on Flikr.
9th April 2013
“What are the results of a financial viability study, as required by the National Planning Policy Framework, and associated infrastructure costs to build 10,000 new homes on the Sutton Coldfield green belt?”
This is my question to Birmingham City Council leaders on Tuesday 9th April 2013 at the public Council Meeting, but why is this important?
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has placed a much stronger emphasis on deliverability and in particular viability in terms of plan making. With a focus on total plan viability, the NPPF calls for balance between sustainable development which benefits the local community and realistic returns for land owners and developers, so that development is commercially viable.
The financial viability study or assessment must evaluate a broad range of policies including affordable housing policy, infrastructure, CIL, planning obligations, code for sustainable homes requirements, lifetime homes requirements, affordable housing targets and thresholds. The planning authority must show that it a social, economic and environmental objectives can be achieved without placing a financial burden on the developer that would make the site uneconomic.
Up until the financial crash in 2008, property developers were willing to make substantial contributions to infrastructure because profit margins were healthy and much of the cost was indirectly added to the buyers’ mortgage.
The recent economic recession, has led to much more testing market conditions and developers are increasingly arguing that their development projects will no longer be economically viable if they are required to support policy levels of affordable housing and infrastructure contributions. In many cases developers are seeking to make an economic case for no contribution at all.
It is important to assess Birmingham City Council’s long term track record. Any proposal to deviate from the policy in future e.g. a lower financial contribution from a developer, could result in a reduction in infrastructure, like education, healthcare and transport, thus placing unnecessary strain on services adjacent to the new development.
Sutton Coldfield residents who wish to offer their support on the afternoon of 9th April can do so via the public gallery at the Council House in Birmingham city centre. I hope to see you there.
Moment of truth for the Sutton Coldfield green belt
Calls for Birmingham City Council to review housing levels as green belt targeted for new homes
Council targets green belt homes while thousands of houses stand empty across Birmingham
Sutton Coldfield Rural Campaign challenges Council’s housing projections
A38 commuter route puts Birmingham Local Plan in reverse
UP to 10,000 new homes and industrial zone could be built on Sutton Coldfield's green belt