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South Worcestershire Affordable Housing Policy

Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District Councils came together to prepare the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) which was adopted in February 2016. The SWDP sets out the policies and objectives for the three councils, including those on meeting affordable housing needs.


The councils are currently undergoing a review of the SWDP and are (as of February 2023) processing and analysing the Regulation 19 responses. Therefore, the original SWDP remains the adopted Development Plan, against which planning applications will be assessed.


Policy SWDP15 sets out the thresholds and requirements for affordable housing provision and contributions. SWDP15 (B) sets out the thresholds and has been included below for convenience:


B. The number, size, type, tenure and distribution of affordable dwellings to be provided will be subject to negotiation, dependent on recognised local housing need, specific site and location factors and development viability and having regard to the sliding scale approach set out below:


i. On sites of 15 or more dwellings on greenfield land, 40% of the units should be affordable and provided on site.

ii. On sites of 15 or more dwellings on brownfield land within Worcester City and Malvern Hills, 30% of the units should be affordable and provided on site. On sites of 15 or more dwellings on brownfield land within Wychavon, 40% of the units should be affordable and provided on site.

iii. On sites of 10 – 14 dwellings, 30% of units should be affordable and be provided on site.

iv. On sites of 5 – 9 dwellings, 20% of units should be affordable and be provided on site.

v. On sites of less than 5 dwellings a financial contribution towards local affordable housing provision should be made, based on the cost of providing the equivalent in value to 20% of the units as affordable housing on site.


This means that even proposals for 1 house are required to provide a contribution towards affordable housing.


The requirements are subject to viability and may be challenged through a Financial Viability Assessment. If you would like to learn more about what these assessments entail, you can read our dedicated webpage here.


Although it could appear, from review the Council’s planning application register, that SWDP15 is not enforced on all schemes, a recent Decision Notice at a site south of Stourport On Severn (which falls within the Malvern Hills District Council area) reaffirmed the validity of the policy and its requirements.


Planning application M/22/01622/FUL sought permission for the erection of a detached bungalow and was recently refused, in March 2023. The Council calculated that over £12,000 would need to be provided as an financial contribution towards affordable housing (n.b. – although the application sought a self-build exemption, this would be separate to the Community Infrastructure Levy which could have been required). The application was subsequently refused and one reason for refusal was that an affordable housing contribution had not been secured through a Section 106 legal agreement.


This reaffirms the importance of considering affordable housing and the prospect of viability within any planning application providing new units, even small schemes, in the Malvern Hills District, Worcester City and Wychavon District Council’s areas.


Viable Placemaking are a town planning consultancy with an expertise in development economics and viability and have experience assisting applicants and developers with schemes of all scales, from single unit conversions to strategic urban extensions, with viability reports and developer contribution negotiations. If you would like a consultant to manage the planning or viability matters of your scheme, or if you are an architect/planning consultant who would like assistance with the viability matters on a scheme you manage, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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