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Affordable Housing Viability Assessments

An Affordable Housing Viability Assessment (AHVA) is a report which evaluates the costs and values anticipated for a proposed development with the purpose to provide the Local Planning Authority with an expert opinion on the provision/contribution of affordable housing that could be provided.

AHVAs are complex reports, so here are FIVE FAQS to help you decide whether you need an AHVA.

1. What is an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment?

An AHVA is a type of Viability Assessment that focusses specifically on the requirement for affordable housing. The report will review the values and costs anticipated for the proposed development against the Council’s policies to provide an opinion on the viable provision/contribution towards affordable housing that could be provided. Some of the key considerations include:

  • Existing Land Value

  • Gross Development Value

  • Build Costs

To find out more on these key values and costs which will be included, you can view our dedicated webpage on Viability Assessments.

2. When do you need an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment?

The main occasion people need an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment is when they believe the contribution makes their scheme unviable. The first step is to check the Council’s planning policies to see whether your scheme meets the thresholds to provide affordable housing.

Although national policy states affordable housing should not be sought on schemes that are not major developments (usually 10 or more dwellings for residential schemes), other than in designated rural areas, many Councils have much lower thresholds. Some even require contributions towards affordable housing for replacement dwellings!

We have a series of Insights on Affordable Housing Policies for many Councils which can be here.

3. What is the process for an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment?

Once you decide an AHVA is what you need, the general process is as follows:

i) Preparation and Submission to the Council

ii) The Council’s Independent Review

iii) Negotiations (if required)

iv) Appeal (if required)

If you are interested in learning more on the above stages of the AHVA process, you can see our Quick Guide on Viability Assessments.

4. What could the results be of an Affordable Housing Viability Assessment?

There are three main outcomes which result from an AHVA, these are:

  • Viable – the proposal can contribute a full policy compliance affordable housing contribution to the Council;

  • Somewhat-viable – the proposal can provide a contribution, but it may be reduced from what the policy requires;

  • Unviable – the proposal cannot and should not provide a contribution towards affordable housing.

It's important to know that your consultant cannot know the result of your AHVA before it is conducted, as this would be considered to be 'viability engineering' (engineering the outcome to meet a premeditated conclusion) and is contrary to viability guidance. This is why it's important to get an experienced professional to assist you with the AHVA, so that the costs and values hold up under scrutiny or review.

5. How can Viable Placemaking help?

Viable Placemaking are experts in development economics and viability and have experience helping numerous applicants on developments of a variety of scales, from replacement dwellings to strategic urban extensions, on viability matters.

If you have a scheme you require an AHVA for, or if you would like to discuss how Viable Placemaking may assist with your scheme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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