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This week, our Councillors met with the Assistant Director of planning from Rochford District Council to try and discover what mitigation measures for the impact on the local community and infrastructure can residents expect to see from section 106 payments from developers.
A Section 106 is a legal agreement between an applicant seeking planning permission and the local planning authority, which is used to mitigate the impact of your new home on the local community and infrastructure. In other words, a new house will mean another car(s) on the roads and perhaps your children will attend nearby schools, putting a little more strain on local services.
As such, Section 106 Agreements often require a financial contribution, made prior to the project starting. Unlike the Community Infrastructure Levy which is tariff-based, Section 106 is charged based on the specific needs of the local community and some councils use the number of bedrooms in the new home to decide what this charge should be. For example, a council might ask for a contribution to the local school for a new four-bedroom family house in an area with limited school places.https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/what-is-section-106/
Our Councillors have been given access to the s106 payments list for developments in the district and we have discovered there is some work to do with how s106 agreements are arrived at. We have put a number of questions to the assistant director from our meeting and will of course update this post once we have a response.
What did we ask?
- Can ward Councillors be involved in the s106 process?
- Why aren’t s106 payments linked to inflation? (Some s106 payments don’t have a ‘shelf life’ meaning their value is not the same as at inception
- Can s106 be renegotiated with developers at a later stage if the monies could be better spent elsewhere?
- Can Town and Parish Councils ask for s106 payments?
- How can we engage with Essex County Council on schools and the CCG on NHS provision?
We also asked why Town and Parish Councils haven’t made neighbourhood plans? Have they been informed and offered support?
What are the benefits to a community of developing a neighbourhood plan or Order?
Neighbourhood planning enables communities to play a much stronger role in shaping the areas in which they live and work and in supporting new development proposals. This is because unlike the parish, village or town plans that communities may have prepared, a neighbourhood plan forms part of the development plan and sits alongside the local plan prepared by the local planning authority. Decisions on planning applications will be made using both the local plan and the neighbourhood plan, and any other material considerations.
Neighbourhood planning provides the opportunity for communities to set out a positive vision for how they want their community to develop over the next 10, 15, 20 years in ways that meet identified local need and make sense for local people. They can put in place planning policies that will help deliver that vision or grant planning permission for the development they want to see.
To help deliver their vision communities that take a proactive approach by drawing up a neighbourhood plan or Order and secure the consent of local people in a referendum, will benefit from 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy arising from the development that takes place in their area, where their authority collects contributions using this method.
Communities without a parish or town council can still benefit from this incentive. If there is no parish or town council the charging authority will retain the Levy receipts (where it is charged) but should engage with the communities where development has taken place and agree with them how best to spend the neighbourhood funding. Charging authorities should set out clearly and transparently their approach to engaging with neighbourhoods using their regular communication tools eg website, newsletters, etc. The use of neighbourhood funds should therefore match priorities expressed by local communities, including priorities set out formally in neighbourhood plans.https://www.gov.uk/guidance/neighbourhood-planning–2#what-is-neighbourhood-planning
We will, of course, keep you posted as soon as we get responses to our questions.