Islington urges Government to scrap vacant building credits

Islington Council is calling on the Government to rethink its vacant building credit policy.

Vacant building credits were announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on November 28 last year. They mean developers do not have to provide any affordable housing if they redevelop an empty building or rebuild an equivalent floor space.

The policy threatens to drastically reduce the amount of affordable housing that will be built through the planning system. The policy has been widely condemned by many local authorities in and outside London and also by some of the country’s biggest developers.

Islington Council wrote to the Government on January 2 about the Secretary of State's decision to amend the National Planning Policy Guidance. The council raised concerns about the Public Sector Equality Duty. The Government has now accepted that they cannot evidence that the Public Sector Equality Duty was discharged and said that "in light of this the 28 November decision is presently being reviewed."

Islington executive member for housing and development Cllr James Murray has written to the Secretary of State urging him to listen to the many concerns that have been raised by local authorities and the development industry.

Cllr Murray said: "Over the last few years this Government has been eroding councils' ability to deliver affordable homes through the planning system. Their latest attempt to do this by introducing vacant building credits has been widely condemned by local authorities across the political spectrum, and even big developers have said that the policy is deeply flawed and harmful to London’s communities.

"We are urging the Government to use this opportunity to take on board the concerns that so many people have raised and scrap this damaging and harmful policy."

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