One answer is ‘whatever the local authority and a developer agree what it means’.
The Vauxhall Society asked Vauxhall developer CLS what ‘affordable housing’ means to them. CLS seeks planning permission from Lambeth for the huge Vauxhall Square scheme at Vauxhall Cross, with ‘110 units of affordable housing’, as well as 410 other properties, which CLS terms not ‘unaffordable’ but ‘private’.
CLS say they arrived at their ‘affordable’ proposals in discussion with ‘registered providers’ (housing associations) and Lambeth’s Housing Department. 58% of the affordable housing units (64 units) will be for rent, 22 being three-bed family units let at ‘social rent levels’. The rest will rented in line with Lambeth policy of what is ‘affordable’ at 60% of ‘Market Rent’. The other ‘affordable’ units will be sold as shared ownership units in line with Lambeth and Greater London Authority’s ‘affordability restrictions’.
CLS’s advisers G L Hearn have an Affordable Housing Director, Barry Rea, who says: ‘The precise definitions of affordability will be negotiated with Lambeth and contained within a Section 106 Agreement which will bind the land. That document will also bind the Registered Provider (housing association) who acquires and manages the affordable housing.’
Mr Hearn points to the ‘affordability’ section of the London Plan, the regional planning guide, which defines the various types of ‘affordable housing’.
The Vauxhall Square scheme: www.vauxhallsquare.co.uk
For the London Plan’s definitions of ‘affordable housing’ download the London Plan extract