Southwark Council will not relax developers’ affordable housing obligations, despite the Government’s announcement that discretion could be used.  

The Government announced last week that it would give councils the power to allow small and medium developers, worth under £45 million, to defer their Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 obligations.  

Both levies were created to mitigate the impact of developments, funnelling money back into the community, to be spent on infrastructure such as roads, schools, and GPs.  

The amount of affordable housing a developer must provide comes under S106 agreements.  

“It is intended that these easements will not be open-ended and will be removed when the economic situation has recovered,” according to the ministry of housing, communities and local government.  

The Government asked local authorities to take a “pragmatic and proportionate” approach when enforcing S106 obligations. 

“This should help remove barriers for developers and minimise the stalling of sites,” it said.  

However, Councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for growth, development, and planning at Southwark Council, said that building affordable homes must be “prioritised”.  

“Southwark Council has, for many years before the current crisis, made it very clear that decent, affordable housing sits at the heart of improving the lives of our residents.  

“The council has made the delivery of housing for all a key priority, but affordable and social housing are the most important part of this.  

“With 11,000 people in need and waiting on our council housing list, it is imperative that building affordable homes is prioritised.  

“While it makes economic sense to kickstart the economy by supporting developers to begin construction again, it cannot be at the expense of the kinds of homes that people need most, or vital contributions to create more local jobs.  

“At a time when people face unprecedented difficulties in finding or retaining employment, and the threat of homelessness, now more than ever, we need the delivery of affordable housing together with contributions to our employment programmes,” he said.  

Cllr Situ will be signing a letter, along with leads in other councils, to the Secretary of State for housing, communities and local government, reiterating his view.