Changes in planning policy will require councils and applicants to take account of a new form of affordable housing for first-time buyers from the end of June 2021.

First Homes are a new type of discounted market housing for first-time buyers. They will be provided via developer contributions and through "exception sites" - sites not allocated in Local Plans usually dedicated to affordable housing.

The Government has earmarked 25% of the affordable homes that each housing scheme, with certain exceptions, provides through section 106 development contributions as First Homes. They are to be delivered at a minimum discount of 30% or higher if a local authority can demonstrate the need, with the discount to remain in perpetuity.

Stephen Baimbridge, Associate at the Development Land and Planning Department of Greenslade Taylor Hunt, said: “The changes set out in the Affordable Homes White Paper suggest that the Government is keen to ensure housing is provided for first time buyers to get onto the housing market.  

“Local authorities and developers will need to start preparing for this change to the affordable housing mix. What will be very interesting will be how much weight local authorities, the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State give to the benefits of First Home exception sites where open market housing on the site would be refused in line with the development plan. This should present a mechanism to deliver housing in the short-term on sites that have only limited and/or long term development potential, albeit with the necessary First Homes restrictions.”

The changes mean that local authorities may have to look again at some local and neighbourhood plans to ensure they reflect the emphasis on New Homes.

However schemes which already have full or outline planning permissions before 28 December 2021 will be exempt. In addition it will not apply to such sites before 28 March 2022 where there has been significant pre-application talks between planners and applicants.

If you are a landowner or developer, interested in finding out how the changes could affect you, and any future development schemes please contact the Development Land and Planning Department at Greenslade Taylor Hunt.  The experienced team operates across the South West and specialises in all aspects of planning and development. For more information please call 01823 334466 or email landplanning.taunton@gth.net