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Call for radical change to housing viability test

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The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) have issued a joint call for the government to include a stronger commitment to affordable housing in the update of the National Planning Policy Framework expected next week.

Research for both organisations has found that 60% of councils felt the viability test – for whether a development can support affordable homes - had hindered their ability to secure these.

Only 10% of councils said the viability test helped with the provision of affordable housing, while 29% had no view.

TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson said: “There is no doubt that the current planning framework has deprioritised vital policy on affordable housing, climate change, good design and social equity, each of which are essential for building quality places.

“A key factor which led to this outcome was the introduction of viability testing, which places the needs of developers and land owners above the wider-public interest. The test has spawned a wasteful and costly industry for all parties which has had the net effect of dramatically reducing the delivery of affordable housing.”

All but a handful of councils had identified a severe or moderate need for more affordable housing, said APDSE chief executive Paul O’Brien.

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