Landmark ruling offers more options to owners of small development sites

Published May 12th, 2016

Yesterday (Wednesday 11th May), the Court of Appeal upheld the Government recommendation to exempt smaller development sites from affordable housing contributions.  This exemption applies to developments with 10 dwellings or fewer or those that are less than 1,000 square metres.  In rural areas, including AONBs and National Parks, the threshold for the exemption is reduced to 5 dwellings.

This is hugely beneficial for individuals with small development sites; this ruling opens up options which had been previously unviable due to the need for payment of an affordable housing contribution.

Stuart Thomas, Berrys’ head of planning, commented: ‘This ruling will no doubt bring an increased number of applications for smaller housing sites, resulting in an increased housing land supply.  Given that this is one of the current key Government objectives, it certainly seems a logical move and one that will be welcomed by many of our clients.’

“As a consequence of this judgement there is also a potential that certain councils, including Shropshire, will find that the housing policies in their plan are out of date.  This has significant consequences for current planning applications and appeals and there may well also be the opportunity to revisit schemes with signed and completed S106 agreements.”

Stuart added: “While the hope is that this ruling will remain unchallenged, there is a small possibility of a further appeal to the Supreme Court if the councils who challenged the Government wish to do so. The key action now, regardless of any future appeal, is for all clients to consider their options to maximise this welcome relief on affordable housing requirements.’

For further guidance on this regulation or for assistance with your own small housing development site, please contact Stuart Thomas on 01743 267069 or

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More about Stuart Thomas

Head of Planning & Development
Tel: 01743 267069
Mobile: 07747 474340

Stuart has an MA in Town Planning and Development, an honours degree in Human Geography, is a full member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and is a PRINCE II Project Management Qualified Practitioner. He joined Berrys in May 2013 and became a partner of the firm in April 2014. He is Head of Planning, responsible for the delivery of planning services across all five offices. Prior to joining Berrys, Stuart held a number of senior Council positions including Head of Development Control at North Shropshire District Council and Area Planning Manager at Shropshire Council.

Stuart has 15 years of experience is all aspects of planning. Specific areas of expertise include agricultural and intensive poultry planning, affordable housing, strategic residential, renewable and commercial developments and rural housing. Stuart has also considerable experience in understanding the finer detail of National Planning Policy, Community Infrastructure Levy, S106 negotiations and planning appeals.