Islington consults to prevent "wasted housing supply"

Out-Law News | 02 Apr 2014 | 1:50 pm | 1 min. read

Developers of major schemes in the London Borough of Islington could be made subject to planning obligations requiring them to ensure the homes are regularly occupied (19-page / 613KB PDF) under new proposals.

Islington Council launched a consultation this week on a discussion paper on revisions to its local policy on planning obligations. The paper sets out proposals to require developers of new major residential schemes to enter into a Section 106 agreement to ensure individual homes are regularly occupied in order to avoid wasted housing supply. 

The Council said it intends to request proof of occupancy from the owners of the properties which are subject to the obligations if it suspects that a property is left unoccupied. Under the proposals, owners of unoccupied properties would be required to make a financial contribution to the Council which would be used to deliver affordable housing elsewhere in the borough. 

The Council said it has made the proposals in light of "growing evidence" that new housing, particularly apartments in high-density new developments, is not contributing to meeting London's housing needs. 

It said that the issue of "buy-to-leave", where new housing supply is purchased but left empty, seemed to be particularly associated with overseas buyers, "many of whom see London as an asset investment". 

The paper proposes to explore the introduction of measures related to overseas marketing of new residential development, including potentially requiring marketing of new properties locally to increase the likelihood of new homes being occupied. 

"If new residential developments in Islington are being purchased by investors who leave dwellings empty, this causes ‘wasted housing supply’ and prevents the borough from discharging its obligations under the National Planning Policy Framework, particularly given the density of the borough and the scarcity of land for housing," the paper said. 

The consultation is open for comments until 14 April.