Viability Appraisals are a key document for proving whether or not a developer can afford to provide social housing. Historically this has been considered a commercially sensitive document which even the members of the planning committee won’t see, although this view is starting to change and increasingly the appraisals are being released to the public. So, knowing its importance for the Carriageworks, we put in a Freedom of Information request back in early February, and yesterday the document was released.
The Viability Appraisal has been prepared by Upside London, specialists in advising developers on affordable housing.
Unfortunately both the Appraisal and the assessment of the appraisal, which the Council commissioned from BNP Parisbas, have been heavily redacted. So we can see the framework of the appraisal but not the actual numbers used.
It’s worth noting though that a recent decision by the General Regulatory Chamber, which hears appeals against the decisions of the Information Commissioner, has cast doubt on whether developers and Councils can withhold any of the information in a viability appraisal. They concluded “We find it particularly hard to accept that the pricing and other assumptions embedded in a viability appraisal are none of the public’s business. They are the central facts determining the difference between viability and non-viability. Public understanding of the issues fails at the starting line if such information is concealed, and discussion of the “point in time” nature of viability models is frustrated.” CAG would obviously like the redacted information released before the Planning Committee makes its decision on 8th April.
Here are the two documents:
VIABILITY_APPRAISAL (7Mb PDF)
VIABILITY_APPRAISAL_ASSESSMENT (8.5Mb PDF)
If anyone can help fill in the missing numbers we’d love to hear from you 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org