Rent-to-Buy housing included within the NPPF affordable housing definition, confirms Planning Inspector in appeal

Jul 1, 2021

Affordable Rent-to-Buy housing provider, Rentplus, has welcomed the outcome of a planning appeal which confirms that Rent-to-Buy housing is included within the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework’s definitions of affordable housing. Following the appeal, Rentplus hopes that more local authorities across the country will look to the updated NPPF and include Rent-to-Buy as an important affordable housing tenure.

The case, brought by Karbon Homes, a leading Registered Provider in the North East region, was for planning permission for 47 affordable homes on land north of Saxty Way, Sowerby.  Permission was originally refused by Hambleton District Council in April 2020 with the council raising concerns that the need for affordable housing in the district was already being met and that the scheme, which proposed rent-to-buy homes, did not meet the identified tenure mix in the Council’s 2015 Supplementary Planning Document.

Planning advisors to Rentplus, Tetlow King, brought the case for Karbon Homes and provided expert evidence at the appeal hearing, offering an in-depth analysis of an array of affordability issues including housing costs and the Housing Register.

In the context of 1,000 people on the housing register in March 2020, and some of the worst affordability statistics in Yorkshire and the Humber, they argued that the benefits of affordable housing carried substantial weight in the planning balance.

The Inspector made it clear that more affordable housing should come forward sooner and said that the council’s rejection of the S106 housing “would seem to run contrary to the necessity to provide affordable homes for the households who are in most need”.

Rent-to-Buy homes were a part of the application and the Inspector agreed that Rent-to-Buy is specifically provided for in the most recent National Planning Policy Framework, and that this took precedence over older NPPF definitions and the earlier Supplementary Planning Document.

Rentplus, winner of the NHA’s Most Innovative Housing Solution, is the leading provider of affordable Rent-to-Buy offering a route to homeownership that requires zero deposit to move in to a brand new home. Rentplus tenants are working people, likely to be renting privately and unable to save. They pay affordable rent (typically 80% of local private housing rates) for a minimum of 5 years, and up to 20.  They use this time to clear debts, build good credit ratings and start to save. When ready to buy, Rentplus gifts them 10% towards their deposit. They then own 100% of their home from the start, unlike shared ownership, Help to Buy or First Homes.  The majority of Rentplus residents are key or essential workers.

Rentplus CEO Steve Collins has addressed several planning conferences over the past 18 months with Jamie Roberts, Principal Planner at Tetlow King to make it clear to councils that affordable Rent-to-Buy is supported by the NPPF. The product has cross party and government ministers’ support, and from local authorities across the country who have already adopted Rentplus and the Rent-to-Buy proposition.

Jamie Roberts said: “The 2019 NPPF encompasses a wide range of affordable tenures which meet the needs of a wide range of households. We’re pleased that this decision confirms that Rent-to-Buy homes are acceptable in the context of the NPPF, even in areas where local policy and guidance might not yet reflect this”.

Steve Collins added: “Local Authorities need to have reference to the latest NPPF in taking decisions around affordable housing.  Taking decisions based on out-of-date legislation is costing taxpayers money in appeals, many of which councils are losing.

“Rentplus is happy to talk to those councils it has not partnered with to explain the model and how it fits into the NPPF’s definitions as both ‘affordable housing for rent’, and other ‘affordable routes to home ownership’.” 

For more information, please visit www.rentplus-uk.comFor more information about the decision see https://www.tetlow-king.co.uk/news/

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