Report: Slipping through the loophole: How viability assessments are reducing affordable housing supply in England

By: Rose Grayston  Published: November 2017

Shelter's new research reveals thousands of affordable homes are being lost from England's cities every year because of viability assessments. This policy report explains how and why this is happening, and gives Shelter's recommendations for shutting down the viability loophole through national planning guidance.


In England, we aren’t building enough homes – and particularly enough affordable homes for people who cannot afford to rent or buy at market prices. The reasons for this undersupply of affordable homes go back decades. But since 2012, national planning rules have made the problem worse by enabling the widespread use and abuse of viability assessments. By amending the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance to shut down the viability loophole, the government can maximise developer contributions to affordable housing and other community benefits, with knock-on positive effects for overall housing supply, build out rates and community support for new housing.


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