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Importance of Affordable Housing is reinforced in the Park

7th March 2011

Guidance on the amount of affordable housing developers will be expected to contribute when building in the Cairngorms National Park has been officially adopted.

Meeting in Nethy Bridge on Friday 4 March 2011, the Planning Committee of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) welcomed this as a step to getting more housing in the Park that is affordable for people on modest incomes.

CNPA Strategic Policy Officer, Alison Lax, said: “Research shows there is a lack of affordable housing in the Park. We highlighted this as a priority in the National Park Plan 2007-2012 and it led to a specific policy in the Local Plan to address it. This guidance is for developers to use and for Local Authorities and us as planning authority to deliver so we can work towards addressing the problem.”

It means that for every house built within the Park that can be sold on the open market, a contribution must be made towards the provision of affordable housing:

  • Developments of three or more dwellings will be required to incorporate a proportion of the total number of units as affordable housing.
  • Development solely for affordable housing will be favourably considered.
  • Where public funding is available to help provide affordable housing, between 25% and 40% of all units will be expected to be affordable.
  • Where less than one third of the total cost of the development is available through public funding, the developer will be required to provide 25% affordable housing on a site.
  • If it can be demonstrated that an off-site contribution would better meet a community’s housing needs, then an alternative solution will be negotiated with the developer. This may include a cash payment towards the provision of affordable housing at another location. The guide for this financial contribution is currently £25,000 per unit for developments of three or more houses.
  • Proposals for one and two open market dwellings will also be required to make a contribution towards affordable housing. This will be a cash payment towards the meeting of housing need in the local area and the guide is £1,250 for one house and £2,500 for two houses.
  • Proposals for off-site contributions will be considered where community needs assessments, or similar assessments, support this as a better way of meeting the housing needs of the community.

Planning Committee Chairman, Duncan Bryden, added: “Planning is about community building. High house prices and developer activity in new build and renovations over past years reflect that for many people from across the UK, the Cairngorms National Park is a very desirable place to live and visit. But, we have a responsibility to people who want to work and raise families in Park communities. We must do what we can to enable affordable housing to be provided in the right places.

“240 affordable houses have been built in the Park since it was established and until quite recently housing developers and trades benefited from a growing market. For the sake of local employment and the Park economy it is important that they can continue to operate with reasonable profit margins. Equally, as the economic climate has now put the squeeze on access to mortgages and finance, the need for affordable housing in the Park is even more pressing. Developer contributions from ‘open market projects’ will help towards building essential levels of quality, affordable housing for local people working in important services and helping our communities thrive.”

The Planning Committee has also approved draft Supplementary Planning Guidance to support the Cairngorms National Park Local Plan on:

  • Wildness
  • Carbon Emissions
  • Developer Contributions

These will be available for public consultation from 21 March to 29 April 2011 during which copies and details of how to comment will be available on our website or by contacting the CNPA office in Grantown-on-Spey or Ballater.