Just What Is It That Makes First Homes So Different, So Appealing?

First Homes have been stuck onto the “affordable housing policy” collage, not as net additional affordable housing but as a replacement, mandated by policy, for other forms of affordable housing which would have been secured by local planning authorities in any event.

I summarised the 24 May 2021 government announcement and how the first homes mechanism is meant to operate in my 28 May 2021 blog post Moving Into First Homes: 3 Key Deadlines (TL;DR: at least 25% of all affordable housing secured on a development should be first homes; must be for first time buyers; must carry at least 30% discount in perpetuity; household income cap of £80,000, or £90,000 in London).

The House of Commons Library first homes information page (3 November 2021) is also useful for its links to the relevant announcements and documents.

As I summarised in the blog post, there were three key dates to implementation of the new regime:

28 June 2021

From the guidance: “ Local plans and neighbourhood plans submitted for examination before 28 June 2021, or that have reached publication stage by 28 June 2021 and subsequently submitted for examination by 28 December 2021, will not be required to reflect the First Homes policy requirement”

(However: “Planning Inspectors should consider through the examination whether a requirement for an early update of the local plan might be appropriate.”)

28 December 2021

From the guidance: “The new First Homes policy requirement does not apply for the following:

sites with full or outline planning permissions already in place or determined (or where a right to appeal against non-determination has arisen) before 28 December 2021”

28 March 2022

It also does not apply to “applications for full or outline planning permission where there has been significant pre-application engagement which are determined before 28 March 2022”.

So if you wish to avoid the new requirement and you are not in an area where a plan has been adopted under the transitional arrangements, you need to have submitted your application so that it will be determined (or so that that the statutory right to appeal on the basis of non-determination has arisen) by 28 December 2021 and if there is any doubt as to whether you will meet that deadline it would be prudent to have engaged in “significant pre-application engagement” such that the deadline for achieving permission is 28 March 2022.”

The first two dates have now passed. I have not yet seen examples of first homes being secured as part of a section 106 agreement. What experience is there out there?

As originally promised in the May 2021 announcement, on 23 December 2021 DLUHC published model section 106 clauses for first homes. At the same time it updated its planning practice guidance. It is really good to see the model clauses, which will be a useful starting point.

Stuart Tym from Shoosmiths wins the “working over Christmas” prize with his excellent 5 January 2022 Local Government Lawyer article First Homes: model Section 106 agreement (although I’m going to deduct a point for his conclusion that “the devil remains in the detail” – when is the devil not in the detail?!).

The first clubhouse Planning Law Unplanned session for 2022 is at 6pm on Tuesday 11 January and will be another really key event, particularly if you have any interest in the survival of theatre and live arts in the face of this pandemic: “MAKING DRAMA OUT OF A CRISIS: theatre vs covid”, featuring Broadway theatre producer (and ex US environmental lawyer) David Siesko; chair of Shakespeare’s Globe (and former planning lawyer) Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE, and theatre manager/Theatres Trust cultural policy manager Tom Stickland. Link to app here.

Simon Ricketts, 7 January 2022

Personal views, et cetera

Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? by Richard Hamilton (1956)

Author: simonicity

Partner at boutique planning law firm, Town Legal LLP, but this blog represents my personal views only.

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