Affordable housing

There’s a rather contrarian piece by Dave Hill in the Guardian today about affordable housing provision. It takes a fairly developer-sympathetic perspective. Perhaps it’s too sympathetic. It rehashes the argument that some affordable housing is better than none. However, some or none is rarely the choice. The key issue is “how much?”? This is really a function of the costs of development – which should include a normal profit to the developer and a payment to the landowner. It’s the payment to the landowner that is the key. Land prices depend partially on planning policies regarding permitted use, density, design requirements and the amount of planning obligations such as CIL, affordable housing etc. Threshold or benchmark land value is one of the most controversial issues in viability appraisals. The choice at Aykon Tower was not between 90 or zero affordable homes. Could the project have supported 190 affordable homes? Why 90? What assumptions underpinned the agreement on this figure? What payment for land was assumed?

There’s also a good article in the Guardian on the bane of most academics’ lives – the Research Excellence Framework. I suspect that James Wilsdon may be trying to generate “impact”.

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