Crisis in the Derbyshire Dales as home rule is axed

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

People on lower wages could find it even harder to live in the Dales due to a change in the law which means developers no longer have to provide affordable housing.

Developers of sites of ten or fewer homes no longer have to adhere to Section 106 agreements, which previously required them to contribute a percentage of affordable homes or make a financial contribution towards affordable housing across the district.

Derbyshire Dales District Council leader Councillor Lewis Rose said: “The Government have received representations from builders and developers that it was a burden on development and consequently if the burden was lifted they would be able to build more houses and it’s the Government’s continued desire to have more houses built.”

The district council is currently disputing the reform, claiming that since it was passed in November, three housing developments in Matlock, Rowsley and Brassington have fallen through.

The proposals, which between them would have contributed a total of £255,000 towards affordable housing, had previously been granted planning permission by the authority on the grounds that they make contributions under Section 106, however now the developers no longer have to do so, the permission on the sites is void.

A further £172,000 worth of Section 106 agreements that were awaiting legal completion have been stalled.

Cllr Rose said: “We are committed to providing affordable housing and it still remains our number one priority.”

Without the Section 106 restriction in place, more developers could be tempted to build expensive homes that could be sold for more money due to the attractive nature of the area.

The average home in the Derbyshire Dales costs £253,483 – 11.7 times the average wage of £21,741 – making it the second most expensive place to live in the East Midlands.

Cllr Rose added: “We all know that any houses built around here are not affordable unless you make them affordable.”

A recent survey revealed Derbyshire Dales residents place affordable housing as one of their top priorities.

The district council has written to both the Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin and the Minister of State for Housing and Planning Brandon Lewis in objection to the proposals.

Cllr Rose has also written to Mr McLoughlin.

He said: “These government reforms fundamentally affect our ability as a district council to secure financial contributions from developments towards the provision of affordable housing.”

Cllr Rose continued: “Without the additional financial support provided by the district council through Section 106 contributions, many of the 1,000-plus affordable homes built in the Derbyshire Dales during the last ten years would not exist today.”

The authority is also in talks with members of the House of Lords with regard to raising the issue in Parliament, meanwhile the Local Government Association and the Sparsity Partnership for Authorities delivering Rural Services (SPARSE) are making representations to the Government on behalf of rural councils.

Cllr Rose concluded: “We are not just satisfied with just setting it on a minister’s desk.”