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More than half of major schemes do not meet affordable housing targets, study finds

Only 40% of the biggest residential developments in Britain currently in the planning system comply with local affordable housing targets, an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed.19 Sep 2013

The three-month study by the Bureau assessed 82 of the biggest housing developments across ten major cities and found that only 40% included affordable housing provision in line with the targets set by the relevant local authority.

In Birmingham, none of the biggest developments met the City Council's 35% target and in Bristol, Bradford, Cardiff, Manchester and Sheffield, less than 50% of the biggest developments complied with locally set targets, the study found.

The Bureau said it found "repeated examples" of housebuilders and property consultancies winning permission from the local authority to significantly reduce the number of affordable homes by using economic viability assessments to demonstrate that schemes will become unviable with a higher number.

Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor of London responsible for policy and planning said in a statement that while the priority is to get new schemes off the ground, the Mayor would intervene in future to raise affordable housing numbers if it was shown that developers were making disproportionately large profits.

"I'm not trying to defend the property industry, but I do believe they have been through a bad time and I believe it's more important to get building moving. 15% or 20% of something is better than nothing," he added.

Birmingham City Council deputy leader Ian Ward said that affordable housing targets haven't been met because major developments in the city centre focus on "affluent urban professionals". "Requirement to provide affordable housing is lower in this area than for other areas of the city as there is less demand for family accommodation," he said.