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'Don’t devastate Devon': Former defence minister attacks Section 106 changes

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'Don’t devastate Devon': Former defence minister attacks Section 106 changes

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Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government

Coastal towns still top of insolvencies list Coastal towns still top of insolvencies list

A Liberal Democrat MP has claimed that controversial changes to Section 106 housing deals could 'devastate' Devon.

Sir Nick Harvey, who represents the North Devon constituency, wants the government to drop a plan to limit the number of new affordable homes being built in small communities.

The former defence minister has written to Communities Minister Penny Mordaunt to ask for "a serious re-think" on a proposal to remove Section 106 planning obligations from developments of 10 dwellings or under.

"Removing the obligation for developers to build affordable housing will devastate an area like north Devon where it is in such short supply," Harvey said. "We need action from the government to increase the pool of affordable housing, not proposals to dry it up."

Harvey recognised the aim is "to encourage housebuilding by removing obstacles for small developers". But he said "this proposal has been concocted in a Whitehall office without a thought to the impact on rural communities. I am not against a minimum threshold, but the figure of 10 dwellings - which seems to have been plucked from thin air - is far too high."

Harvey quoted DCLG figures showing that, in 2012-13, 66% of homes in settlements under 3,000 were delivered through the Section 106 agreement.

"Small rural communities across north Devon will really suffer if this proposal gets the go-ahead," Harvey said. "The average cost of a house in the area currently outstrips average annual wage 11 times over. Without the affordable housing that we so desperately need, families will either have to leave the area or risk falling into rural poverty."

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