Consultation response: Planning and affordable housing for build to rent

By: Deborah Garvie  Published: May 2017


Shelter's response to the DCLG consultation on planning and affordable housing for build to rent

Summary

Shelter welcomes the encouragement of Build to Rent (BTR).  

  • We agree rental developments can have supply benefits in terms of quicker build-out rates, and being more suitable for some sites than market sale.  We also support institutional investment in the development of better quality, better managed and more stable private rented homes (see our response to the Montague Review).  BTR could provide a limited alternative to the PRS for those who can afford it.
  • We strongly support the proposal that BTR developments should be let on family friendly tenancies. We urge the government to go further and legislate to require that all tenancies are let on Stable Rental Contracts of 5 years, rather than expecting tenancies of 3 years (or more) will become the norm.
  • However, BTR is likely to be aimed at the higher end of the market, for those earning above average local incomes, because higher levels of service and amenity provided by BTR (e.g. concierges and on-site gyms) are likely to be reflected in the cost.  It is unlikely to be affordable to lower-income households, including those in work.
  • Given that there are limited suitable development sites in urban centres, policy intervention and subsidy (i.e. public land) to ensure viability should be targeted at the provision of genuinely affordable homes.  BTR developments should therefore be required to include genuinely affordable rentals to meet local housing need.
  • We oppose the proposal to amend the NPPF to make it easier for BTR developments to offer Affordable Private Rent (APR) homes instead of other types of affordable housing - this should be at the discretion of local planning authorities so they can meet local housing need.
  • We particularly oppose the explicit addition of APR in the National Planning Policy Framework as another form of affordable housing. This further shifts the concept of 'affordable housing' away from genuinely affordable, stable homes for people disadvantaged in the local market.

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