This may not be the Planning Minister's first statement in response to Mr Justice Holgate's decision, last July, to quash the policy guidance exempting small developments from s.106 and affordable housing contributions, but it is perhaps the most public.
The Court of Appeal has recently granted the government leave to appeal the decision, on an expedited or 'fast-track' basis. If the government succeeds then the policy may well be revived. If not, then the government will have to look at other ways to re-instate the policy, taking the Court of Appeal judgment into account. Developers who specialise in 'pocket developments' on in-fill sites are awaiting the outcome of the appeal with interest; as are a large number of planning lawyers (myself included).
It is unclear whether the Planning Minister's comments relate solely to the on-going litigation or whether a new policy announcement is on the cards for the Autumn. In either case, this is certainly something to keep an eye on over the coming months.
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Lewis told the fringe meeting: "I'm still very focussed on making sure that if we are building ten homes or less that we make it as accessible for small builders as possible. I'm determined to make sure we deliver on what I did at Christmas time." Lewis added: "I am still of the view that I was six or nine months or longer ago, that for local authorities to be asking for £145,000 per house in section 106 agreements on sites of six or seven houses is completely ridiculous. And they then complain that nobody is building houses in their areas."