E:gen - August 2015

Recent planning changes – the removal of vacant building credit

A recent High Court decision has quashed government guidance issued in November 2014 that exempted developments of small sites and those bringing vacant buildings back into use from affordable housing contributions. This could have serious implications for development of these types of sites going forward.

“I’ve got 106 problems and the affordable housing provisions are one of them!”

It is doubtful you will hear Jay-Z trying to shoehorn the above statement into one of his songs, but ask any residential development lawyer and it is a recurring grumble. So often it is the way that a section 106 agreement is negotiated before a registered provider is on board. Often before the developer itself is on board. Yet the section 106 agreement sets in stone the affordable housing provisions at the time it is entered.

The Budget 2015: A new era for social housing?

The Conservative Government’s Budget delivered on 8 July 2015 announced a number of significant social housing reforms. The full consequences of these measures are yet unknown but the Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted that 14,000 fewer affordable homes will be built over the next five years. Many housing associations are also concerned that these changes may price lower income families out of affordable, high quality housing. There are, however, a number of housing associations who query the supposed adverse effects and may potentially see this as an opportunity to diversify their portfolios.

But that’s not what I meant – Service Charges and the Courts approach to interpretation in Arnold v Britton

The recent case of Arnold v Britton and others [2015] UKSC 36 acts as a reminder that the Courts are unwilling move away from the actual wording of a clause, even if the result is not what may have been intended by the parties. The actual terms of a lease or agreement are key, and the Court’s role is not to amend or rectify a party’s bad commercial decision. While this case relates to service charges, it has been viewed as having a wide application for contract interpretation in general.

Power to you?

The government has signalled its commitment to large-scale reform of existing laws governing telecommunications infrastructure within the first session of the current Parliament. This is potentially a welcome step given the inadequacy of the current legal regime, but it is being treated with caution as it is not yet clear who will benefit…