Affordable housing to include Build to Rent

27th February 2017
By Hannah Spence

Affordable housing represents the central theme of the fourth and last section of the Housing White Paper (HWP), published in February 2017.

‘Helping people now’ details the short-term measures the Government proposes to tackle some of the impacts of the housing shortage, whilst implementing its long term strategy of building more homes. Among these is the anticipated shift towards identifying additional types of affordable housing.

The HWP reiterates the Government’s intention to publish a revised definition of affordable housing to include Starter Homes (discussed in more detail here) and ‘affordable private rented housing’, specifically for larger Build to Rent schemes.

A consultation document ‘Planning and Affordable Housing for Build to Rent’, has been published alongside the HWP. This intends to make clear the Government’s intention to support the Build to Rent market through the planning system. It sets out the proposed policy measures for recognising the rental sector as an enduring feature of the housing market.

A key measure is to amend the National Planning Policy Framework to include affordable private rented homes within the definition of Affordable Housing and to incentivise planning authorities to ‘plan proactively for Build to Rent where there is a need’. This will introduce ‘affordable private rental homes’ as the Build to Rent related affordable housing contribution. The consultation document provides detail as to how housing for affordable rent is defined and how the level of contribution is calculated based on the development economics of Build to Rent schemes.

In a growing sector that is still taking shape, any change in policy that will provide an enhanced understanding of the viability assumptions is welcomed, as Build to Rent continues to play an increasing role in the housing market.

There are of course wider questions related to the extent to which the rental sector can, or indeed should contribute to addressing the ‘housing crisis’. Nevertheless, the contribution that the rental sector makes to the housing market is here to stay for the foreseeable future and the Government has sought to provide some clarity as to the role it plays in the whole housing market.

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