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AFFORDABLE HOUSING AT CENTRE OF LEGAL DISPUTE

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The financial viability of provision of affordable housing on residential development sites has been under high cou...
The financial viability of provision of affordable housing on residential development sites has been under high court scrutiny in a case in which the court has quashed a planning inspector's decision that provision of affordable housing on a sheltered housing development was not financially viable.

Barnet LBC rejected the scheme for sheltered housing and ancillary accommodation on the basis that it did not include any element of affordable housing. However, a planning inspector in allowing an appeal against that decision took the view that cost involved meant it was not appropriate, reasonable or practicable to seek provision of any affordable housing.

Now though Mr Justice Stanley Burnton has quashed that decision. The council argued among other things that the inspector was wrong in the view he took on the question of certain of the costs associated with the development of the site.

The judge held, in allowing a challenge by the council, that the inspector failed to take the financial viability of a proposal involving affordable housing for the whole site properly into account. He said the inspector's view that the cost of preparing the site for any form of housing development would be relatively high was inconsistent with the evidence.

He said the finding of the inspector was not one which could reasonably have been reached on the information and evidence put before him.

Barnet London Borough v Secretary of State for Environment Transport and the Regions and another - Queens Bench Division - Stanley Burnton J - 23 August 2001 - Andrew Tabachnik (instructed by Jeffrey Lustig) appeared for the claimant; Christopher Katkowski QC (instructed by Lester Aldridge) appeared for the second defendant.

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