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Guildford Borough Council

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017

Proposed Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites 2017 - Part 1: Policies

Policy H2: Affordable Homes


4.2.30 Guildford borough is generally a prosperous area of the country, offering a good quality of environment in its towns and rural areas, in close proximity to a wealth of employment and leisure opportunities. This does come at a price. High demand to live here and limited supply are amongst the factors that have contributed resulted into one of the borough being one of the least affordable areas of the country, outside of London, to live in.

4.2.31 The West Surrey Strategic Market Assessment 2015 and Addendum 2017 indicates that approximately over half of all Guildford households over the plan period will not be able to afford to buy or rent a home that meets their needs on the open market without subsidy. The reason for a high level of affordable housing need in the borough is the high cost of buying or renting homes on the open market in relation to local incomes. The relationship between the cost of homes and wages is termed affordability.

4.2.32 Affordability is of greatest concern to those on the lowest earnings, including first time buyers. For this reason we measure affordability using the ratio of the lowest 25 per cent of earnings to the lowest 25 per cent of house prices, which gives an affordability ratio. The higher the ratio, the less affordable housing is (it is in effect how many multiples of a person's salary would be needed to buy a home). Government figures show that the borough's affordability ratio was 10.92 in 2013, rising to 11.5 in 2015 (the most recent data published)., This is higher than Surrey's ratio of 10.89 and much greater than England's ratio of 7.06.45[1] .

4.2.33 Sufficient housing to meet the needs of the borough's population will ensure that the borough thrives, with mixed, balanced communities. As well as the benefits it can provide to people's lives, families and communities, suitably sized, priced and located housing can also help to support the economy by ensuring people with a wide variety of occupations can live in the borough and potentially reducing travel to work journeys.

POLICY H2: Affordable homes

(1) As well as providing and managing affordable homes ourselves, the Council will work with registered providers, developers and landowners to increase the number of affordable homes in the borough to ward contribute to meeting identified needs. These will be provided on developments providing solely affordable housing either on public sector-owned land or developments by registered providers.

(2) These We will also seek affordable homes on will be provided on sites providing five or more homes, or sites of 0.17 ha or more regardless of the number of homes. We will seek . Aat least 40 per cent of the homes on these sites must be as affordable homes.; and on developments providing solely affordable housing either on public sector-owned land or developments by registered providers.

(3) The tenure and number of bedrooms size of the affordable homes provided on each qualifying site must contribute, to the Council’s satisfaction, towards meeting the mix of affordable housing needs identified in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2015, or subsequent affordable housing needs evidence. This currently includes a tenure split of at least 70% Affordable rRented, with the remainder being other forms of affordable housing. Affordable rRent must be no more than the maximum level set out in our most recent housing guidance or strategy. Developers will be expected to provide land for affordable homes at nil value.

(4) Affordable housing contributions may be provided off-site, or by payment in lieu where the Council agrees that on site provision and management would be impractical due to size and / or location of the development. Off-site provision or payment in lieu is expected to enable the same amount of additional affordable housing as would have been delivered on site.

(5) We will not grant pPlanning permission will not be granted for development that would result in the net loss of any affordable homes that have been built, that were secured by planning obligation or condition.


Reasoned Justification

4.2.34 "'Affordable Housing"' and "'Affordability"' are defined in the Glossary included at Appendix A. Affordable housing must include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing. Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. We will require the provider of social and affordable rented housing to have a local presence in management of affordable homes.

4.2.35 This policy applies to all new homes within the C3 Use Class. This generally includes retirement homes, as well as self-contained studio flats for a single household, whether specifically aimed at students or not. It does not apply to residential institutions such as care homes and nursing homes. Assisted living, extra care and other sui generisC2 residential developments may be required to make provision; these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Off-site provision and payments in lieu of on-site provision

4.2.36 Affordable housing should be provided on the development site in order to contribute towards mixed communities. Affordable housing contributions may be provided off-site, or by payment in lieu where the Council agrees that on site provision and management would be impractical due to size and / or location of the development. Exceptionally, in negotiating planning applications, the Council may accept off-site provision of payment in lieu for larger developments where planning permission has not already been granted. In both cases, the Council must be satisfied that:

(a) the contribution is sufficient to provide for the construction of at least the same number, type and size of dwellings on a suitable different site (including the value of the land) and the financial contribution does not result in less affordable housing being provided overall

(b) appropriate arrangements are in place identifying the alternative site on which the affordable housing is to be provided

(c) any off-site provision or payment is of broadly equivalent value relative to on-site provision, taking into account that land for affordable housing should be provided at nil value.

4.2.37 We will revise tThe Planning Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) 20171 to includes a formula for calculating affordable housing payments in lieu of on-site provision.


4.2.38 Land values and property prices are generally high across the borough, although with considerable variation. Our viability evidence shows that the vast majority of housing developments in most locations in the borough are viable providing an affordable housing contribution of 40 per cent.

4.2.39 We will expect developments to provide the required amount of affordable housing in accordance with this policy and Guildford Planning Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). In considering viability, developers will be expected to have taken into account the costs of meeting policy requirements, including the provision of affordable housing and other infrastructure requirements, in the price paid for a site. Where we consider that these requirements have were not been satisfactorily taken into account in the purchase of land or of an option, we will not accept a lower rate of provision based on such viability appraisals. Where developers raise viability concerns with providing the required proportion of affordable housing, they will be expected to meet the costs of the Council's financial appraisals as well as their own.

4.2.40 There may be some circumstances where abnormal costs would make the scheme unviable to deliver. In general, a need to make profit over and above the standard developer's profit in order to fund other community benefits will not be accepted as an abnormal cost. Where developers demonstrate to our satisfaction that providing the amount of affordable housing required by this policy would not be economically viable, we may will follow consider the following cascade mechanism to assist with delivering a scheme:

(a) vary the tenure mix of the affordable housing (for example, more intermediate housing and less rented housing), size, and/or type of homes to be provided

(b) reduce the overall number of affordable homes

4.2.41 Developments that seek to avoid the requirements of this policy by failing to make most efficient use of land or by artificially subdividing land into smaller sites will not be permitted. The full requirement for the cumulative requirement of all the sites must be made.

4.2.42 In calculating the number of affordable homes to be provided on a site, fractions of homes will sometimes be required. In order to avoid requirements for fractions of homes we will therefore round up any part requirement of an affordable housing dwelling in line with common convention at 0.5 of a home, and down at 0.4 or less. A replacement home would not therefore make any contribution.

4.2.43 If a developer demonstrates that rounding up from half a dwelling or more would result in the development being unviable, we will negotiate a variation in tenure of some affordable homes, or a lesser number of affordable homes.

4.2.44 We will ring-fence financial contributions in lieu of on-site provision to help provide more affordable homes elsewhere in the borough, for example by assisting delivery of conversions of buildings or building new affordable homes on Council-owned land.

Key Evidence

  • Tenancy Strategy (Guildford Borough Council, 2013)
  • Guildford Housing Strategy 2015 - 2020 (Guildford Borough Council, 2015)
  • West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 2015) and Guildford Addendum Report 2017
  • December 2014, Guildford Local Plan Viability and Affordable Housing Study (Guildford Borough Council, 2014)
  • Guildford borough Traveller Accommodation Assessment (Guildford Borough Council, 20172)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

Number of new-build affordable homes approved, and as a % of all homes approved


Monitoring report Planning applications and appeals

Number of affordable homes approved as a percentage of policy requirement (i.e. on sites above the qualifying site size threshold)


Monitoring report Planning applications and appeals

Percentage of all new build affordable homes that are for rent


Monitouring report Planning applications and appeals


1. CLG tables all figures 2013 housing statistics 2015] [back]