Affordable Housing Revisions Save Richmond Self Builders £100,000+

Monday, January 12, 2015

Last year, we had many clients in Richmond concerned about Affordable Housing Contributions, a hefty fee that could add tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds to self builds.

In December 2014 The Government announced plans to scrap Affordable Housing Contributions from small scale developments, as part of wider revisions to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Their definition of small scale is a development of 10-units or less with a maximum combined floorspace of no more than 1000sqm. This puts self builders firmly in the clear.

As of January 2015, Richmond is one of the first London boroughs to implement the changes, offering an incredible increase in value for new builds in the area.

If you’ve had plans for a self build in Richmond, now is the ideal time to put them in action. The removal of AHC fees has made it highly competitive location for builds requiring the demolition of an existing property and we expect to see a lot of interest from developers.

When I approached the topic back in August, I felt that – like the similarly revised CIL fee – the Affordable Housing Contribution being applied to self builds was a misfire, intended for large scale commercial developments where such contributions make sense and pockets are deeper.

Back then, any self build that required the demolition of an existing property had the fees applied as standard in Richmond. Even worse, the fee was payable before planning permission was even granted, adding uncertainty and risk to an already taxing process.

This was a severe handicap to Richmond’s self build market, making the otherwise highly desirable borough far less attractive by burdening already stretched budgets with fees often exceeding £100,000.

We made the best of a bad situation, helping clients reduce their bill through careful, thorough negotiations with the council, in one case reducing a £110,000 bill down to a far more manageable £35,000.

Today, that fee would be £0.

Though long overdue, I’m relieved sense has been seen on this issue and I hope it brings renewed interest in one of London’s most beautiful boroughs. Any effort to stimulate self building gives UK homeowners more choice and freedom.

In the bigger picture, self builds are an essential part of the housing ecosystem. They replace out of date, inefficient homes with sustainable, high quality builds better suited for modern life while allowing the public to take housing into their own hands.

By Oliver Brown