The mayor of Lewisham has said the Government's move to relax the rules around developers’ obligations when it comes to affordable housing is a “backwards step”.  

The Government announced last week that it would give councils the power to allow small and medium developers, worth under £45 million, to defer their Community Infrastructure Levy and S106 obligations.   

Both levies were created to mitigate the impact of developments, funnelling money back into the community, to be spent on infrastructure such as roads, schools, and GPs.   

The amount of affordable housing a developer must provide comes under S106 agreements. 

The move, the Government says, is to “kickstart” the economy.   

“It is intended that these easements will not be open-ended and will be removed when the economic situation has recovered,” according to the ministry of housing, communities and local government.   

The Government asked local authorities to take a “pragmatic and proportionate” approach when enforcing S106 obligations.  

“This should help remove barriers for developers and minimise the stalling of sites,” it said.   

However, Lewisham’s mayor Damien Egan said the Government was “wrong to use this crisis as an opportunity” to reduce the amount of money developers have to pay.  

“This is a backwards step. Lewisham needs more social housing not less.  

“The Government is wrong to use this crisis as an opportunity to reduce the amount of money private developers have to pay towards building new social housing.  

“Along with other councils in London we’re calling on the Government to reconsider this decision and put the needs of Londoners first,” he said.  

Councils can use discretion when it comes to the new rules and are not obliged to implement them.