Lambeth to put developers’ viability reports in the open
Developers of all major sites in Lambeth who can’t meet the borough’s 40% affordable housing target will face greater public scrutiny under Lambeth Council’s proposals.
The council wants developers who fail to meet the affordable homes target to publish a viability assessment explaining why, that will be publicly available and not redacted. If the measure is approved, it will be included in a supplementary planning document (SPD) that forms part of the council’s planning guidelines.
Developers must weigh up the financial risks and market conditions against profit forecasts and have to prove that it would not be financially viable for them to deliver the number of affordable homes required. However, there are concerns that some developers may overstate land or other costs in viability appraisals.
The SPD makes clear that the council’s starting position is that appraisals should be treated transparently and be available for wider scrutiny, submitted without redaction and will be published alongside other planning documents in all but exceptional cases. In addition to increasing transparency in the process, the SPD is also intended to improve consistency in approach, and ensure that viability appraisals are formed of inputs that are supported by robust evidence.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Regeneration said: “There’s been growing public concern that deals with developers are done behind closed doors and we need to make the process much more transparent, clear, and fair, to make sure the affordable housing Lambeth badly needs is built.”
Once approved the draft development viability SPD will be available for comment on the council’s website www.lambeth.gov.uk as part of a 12 week consultation.