Greenwich Council has just announced plans to require residential developers to go public with their full, un-redacted, viability assessments when seeking to provide less than 35% affordable housing on a site.
Viability assessments frequently contain commercially sensitive information - such as the price agreed on a land deal or the proposed sales values of individual units - which is the very reason they are usually published in a redacted form.
This is likely to leave developers facing a very unattractive choice between:
a) accepting affordable housing that risks making the whole project unviable; or
b) releasing information into the public domain that puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
In a statement, the Royal Borough of Greenwich - which has a 35 per cent affordable housing requirement for new residential developments - said that at the moment, developers who say that their development is not economically viable with this level of affordable housing have to supply a viability study, which they can request remains confidential. But the statement added that the borough will now introduce a new list of locally established criteria that sets out what information should be provided when submitting a planning application, "which includes the requirement to provide a fully public viability study for residential developments that are proposing less than 35 per cent affordable homes". It said: "This will then be published on the Royal Greenwich website, along with all the other documents submitted as part of the planning application."