Government plans put new affordable housing at "serious risk" in National Parks

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10 November 2014

England's ten National Parks have, today, expressed their concern at Government proposals that put at risk their ability to achieve more affordable housing in National Parks. In an unusual step, all ten have written to Communities Secretary of State, Eric Pickles MP asking for changes to the Government's proposals for reforming Section 106 agreements.

The Government consulted earlier this year [1] on introducing a threshold in Section 106 agreements (used in planning) proposing a threshold of ten units below which local planning authorities would not be able to require the new housing to be affordable. In National Parks most sites for development tend to be small, infill opportunities and conversions for new affordable housing development. The introduction of any threshold, even one lower than ten units, in the words of the ten Chairs "risks seriously threatening our ability to facilitate affordable housing in National Parks for local needs".

Chair of National Parks England [2] and the North York Moors National Park Authority, Jim Bailey said:

"Reforming Section 106 agreements might sound like a technical boring bit of planning, but in fact these changes go to the heart of how we can respond to the need for affordable housing in our rural communities. The National Park Authorities are committed to supporting living working communities. This proposal simply won't help that in rural areas and we hope the Government will listen and exempt National Parks from the change."

Note to Editors: The letter is available to download via the link below.

Letter signed by all Chairs of the English National Parks to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles MP

Notes

  1. Details of the Government consultation can be found here. The Government consultation proposes to exclude 'rural exception sites' from the provisions. While welcome, 'rural exception sites' are normally greenfield sites on the edges of villages and in practice this will only be a partial safeguard. Many small scale developments in National Parks are infill sites in villages, conversions or brownfield sites that would get caught up in the changes. A decision by the Government is awaited. 
  2. National Parks England is the umbrella organisation that brings together the nine National Park Authorities (NPAs) and the Broads Authority. It exists to support policy and practice by providing a collective voice for the views of the English NPAs; raising the profile of their work; facilitating discussion on issues of common concern; and working in partnership with other bodies. Follow us on twitter: @natparksengland

Contacts for further information

Paul Hamblin, Executive Director, National Parks England
Tel: 020 7072 7421  Mobile: 07968 760 854  Email: paul.hamblin@nationalparksengland.org.uk

Contact details for media officers for each of the National Parks are available.