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The Wyre Forest District Council (WFDC) Local Plan (adopted April 2022) promotes the delivery of new housing to meet local housing need in the district, through policies relating to affordable housing, self and custom build, exception sites and specialist housing need.

The purpose of this Housing Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) is to add further detail to the policies in the local plan, giving greater clarity to developers and communities about the expectations for housing delivery in Wyre Forest.

This SPD cannot and does not introduce any new policy requirements, rather it provides additional guidance to help applicants understand how it is possible for proposed developments to satisfy existing plan policies.

Key Local Plan Policies

SP.1 Spatial Development Strategy

Sp.2 Locating New Development

SP.9 Housing Density and Mix

SP.10 Affordable Housing Provision

SP.11 Addressing Rural Housing Needs

SP.12 Self Build and Custom Housing

SP.13 Housing for Older People and Others with special housing needs

DM.1 Financial Viability

DM.2 Residential Infill Development

DM.22 Safeguarding the Greenbelt

SP.2 Locating New Development

  • Development in Kidderminster or Stourport (Policies SP.3 and SP.5)
    • Large Scale Development (Policy SP.2) and Infill Development up to 6 dwellings (Policy DM.2)
    • Market Housing no restrictions (Policy DM.2).  Affordable housing min 25% on 10 or more dwellings (Policy SP.10)
  • Development in Bewdley (Policy SP.5)
    • Infill Development up to 6 dwellings (Policy DM.2) that ensures the vitality and viability of the Town (Policy SP.5)
    • Housing must meet local needs and long-term vitality and viability (Policy SP.2)
    • To be supported by Planning Statement showing how the vitality and viability of the Town will be improved and a Heritage Statement for all applications to show preservation or enhancement of the significance of the historic setting of the Town. 
  • Development in Villages and Rural Areas (Policy SP.6)
    • Rural Exception Sites (Policy SP.11 & DM.22)
      • 100% Affordable Housing Exception Sites (Policy SP.11 (1)) Agricultural Workers Dwellings (Policy SP.11) (2)
    • Infill Development up to 6 dwellings (Policy DM.2)
      • 25% affordable Housing on sites of 6 dwellings or more (Policy SP.10) Local Needs Housing only (Policies SP.6 2a & DM.2)
      • ‘Local Needs Housing’ determined by Parish Needs Survey and/or housing register (Policy SP.2 & DM.2)

Where applicable development must be in accordance with the Adopted Neighbourhood Plan

Affordable Housing

  • SP.9
  • SP.10
  • DM.1

What constitutes affordable housing for the purposes of this SPD

The NPPF defines affordable housing as housing for sale or rent, for those whose needs are not met by the market (including housing that provides a subsidised route to home ownership and/or is for essential local workers). There are four broad types of affordable housing:

  • Affordable housing for rent
  • Starter homes
  • Discounted market sales housing
  • Other affordable routes to home ownership such as First Homes

Mix and distribution of affordable housing in developments

As per policy SP.10 of the Local Plan, WFDC will seek a 25% affordable housing contribution on major development sites with the tenure split primarily being social rent (65%) and affordable housing for sale (35%). Affordable rent will only be considered when it is clearly justified.

The design of the scheme must be tenure blind in so far as possible. The locations of the affordable housing should be agreed with development management team as part of the application process.

The Local Plan states that where affordable housing is to be provided on a development, the dominant type of rent type, will be for social rent. If this is considered unviable, then the developer will be expected to follow the procedure as set out in policy DM.1 Financial Viability of the Local Plan.

Rented Housing

Any rented homes owned or managed as affordable housing should meet the conditions of affordable housing for rent, set out in the NPPF:

  • the rent is set in accordance with the Government’s rent policy for Social Rent or Affordable Rent, or is at least 20% below local market rents (including service charges where applicable)
  • the landlord is a registered provider, except where it is included as part of a Build to Rent scheme (in which case the landlord need not be a registered provider)
  • it includes provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision. For Build to Rent schemes affordable housing for rent is expected to be the normal form of affordable housing provision (and, in this context, is known as Affordable Private Rent).

Build to Rent

Where applicants wish to propose an alternative intermediate housing product, they should submit evidence demonstrating why a particular product is more appropriate. The Council will consider this on the basis that it will be genuinely affordable for local residents and consider how the proposed product meets identified needs now and in the future.

The Council will require the following matters to be secured in planning obligations:

  • Management by a bona fide housing provider or management agent from the public or private sector
  • Restrictions to ensure that the properties meet the needs of eligible households and remain affordable in the future
  • Rents, inclusive of service charges must not exceed 80% of market rents or the Local Housing Allowance, whichever is the lowest, for the relevant property type
  • The right to make nominations in respect for future occupants
  • Homes are let in the form of assured tenancy with the tenancy terms submitted for the Council for approval

Intermediate housing

This term refers to housing provided for sale that offers a route to ownership for those who could not achieve home ownership through the open market. It includes for example shared ownership and other low-cost homes for sale (at a price equivalent to at least 20% below local market value) and rent to buy (which includes a period of intermediate rent). Where public grant funding is provided, there should be provisions for the homes to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households, or for any receipts to be recycled for alternative affordable housing provision or refunded to Government or the relevant authority specified in the funding agreement.

First Homes

First Homes, introduced by the Government in June 2021, requires 25% of affordable housing developer contributions to be provided as first homes. However, under the transitional arrangements, any local authority who submitted their plan before June 2021, does not have to include this tenure in their developer contribution requirements until their next local plan review.

Wyre Forest District Council’s plan was examined in January 2021 and therefore meets the transitional criteria.

Furthermore, a report into the affordability of First Homes, conducted by Arc4 on behalf of WFDC, found that

  • Based on a 3.5x household income multiple, First Homes are not affordable based on overall market prices and even less affordable when newbuild prices are considered to earners and households on lower quartile, median or average earnings/incomes.
  • If First Homes are delivered, a maximum discount of 50% would need to be applied across Wyre Forest to ensure that First Homes are as affordable as possible – but even then income ratios would exceed the recommended 3.5x. It would also be recommended that First Home prices are based on overall property prices and not newbuild prices.
  • If First Homes are delivered as part of a development, this is likely to affect the viability of delivering other types of affordable homes on site.

First Homes must be sold to people meeting eligibility criteria which includes first-time buyers and household incomes should not exceed £80,000. Analysis has demonstrated that open market newbuild prices could be afforded by households with an income of less than £80,000. Therefore, First Homes could provide a subsidized affordable product to households who could already afford to buy on the open market.

Therefore, until the local plan is reviewed, First Homes will not be considered as part of an affordable housing contribution

Offsite Provision/Contributions

Off-site provision will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Both the developer and the local authority must agree that this is the most appropriate course of action and developers must demonstrate why the provision of affordable housing on-site is not achievable.

Examples of circumstances where it may not be possible to provide affordable housing on-site include sites where it would be difficult to achieve a mixed-use scheme and sites with particular site and layout constraints. Both the developer and the local authority must agree where the provision will be located. The alternative site must then meet the requirement for affordable housing generated from both sites as per the example below:

Sites A and B can each accommodate 30 dwellings.

It has been agreed that all the affordable housing contribution will be located on site B. Therefore, the requirement is:

Site A: 30 dwellings (25%) = 8 dwellings Site B: 30 dwellings (25%) = 8 dwellings

Total affordable housing units required = 16 dwellings to be provided on site B.

In very exceptional circumstances, where it is demonstrated that the provision of affordable housing on the site of, or in the vicinity of, new development, is not viable, the District Council will accept a financial contribution towards the delivery of affordable housing within the district.

The principle for determining the financial contribution to be made is that it should be broadly equivalent in value to on-site affordable housing provision. Therefore, the approximate cost of on-site provision to the developer will be established and the developer will pay this value to the District Council. The basis for calculating the financial contributions is therefore as follows:

Commuted Payment  = Open Market Housing Value less Affordable Housing Value


The affordable housing requirement set out in the Local Plan has been examined by an Independent Inspector and found to be sound. Planning applications that comply with the policy requirements, in terms of affordable housing, are therefore considered to be viable.

Where proposals do not meet this requirement, a Viability Assessment should be submitted to the Council but only where assumptions depart from the Local Plan Viability Assessment, as per Policy DM.1, Financial Viability. It should be noted that an applicant will need to seek agreement in writing from WFDC prior to conducting an assessment and that this will be reviewed by the Council’s independent appointed valuation office. The developer will incur the full costs of the review.

Applicants should also note that an independent assessment could take a number of weeks depending on the complexity and/or the information supplied. It is in the applicants’ interest to provide full and complete information for the assessment process.

Where viability assessments show that the developer will be unable to meet all policy requirements on site, prioritisation of infrastructure requirements have been agreed so that the provision of affordable housing is not always reduced first from developers’ obligations. Guidance on this can be found in the Planning Obligations SPD.

Vacant Building Credit

The District Council supports the reuse and redevelopment of brownfield sites and the reuse of vacant buildings for housing. Acknowledging that redevelopment of vacant buildings incur additional costs compared to greenfield site development of the same size and typology, the District aims to implement the Vacant Building Credit methodology established in the NPPF and PPG. The Policy outlines the requirement to define a vacant building, as opposed to a building made vacant for the sole purpose of development and to an abandoned building, two situations where the Vacant Building Credit does not apply according to the NPPF and PPG.

To qualify for Vacant Building Credit a site must be a brownfield development and contain an existing building at the time the application is made, and it is proposed to:

  • Demolish the building for redevelopment; or
  • Bring the building back into use

Vacant Building Credit will apply where the building is wholly vacant and to be redeveloped completely and may result in a proportionate reduction in the Affordable housing contribution. Vacant building Credit does not apply where the building:  

  • Has been abandoned in planning terms; or
  • Has been vacated for the sole purpose of redevelopment; or
  • Is covered by an extant or recently expired planning permission

The proportion of the vacant building floor space as part of the total new floor space should be used to calculate the proportion of the affordable housing required by the policy.

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