Agenda item

The use of Commuted Sums from Section 106 Agreements (Agenda item 7)

Report of the Executive Member for Planning and the Environment (Ann Steward).

Minutes:

The report sought Cabinet’s approval for the use of commuted sums in Section 106 Agreements to be delegated to the Executive Member in consultation with the Strategic Director.

 

The report was presented by the Environmental Planning Manager.

 

The use of the Section 106 Agreements had already been agreed through the signing of the legal agreement between the Council and the other parties involved.  The Council was unable to use the monies for any other purpose.

 

By allocating the resources through a delegated decision with the Executive Member, in consultation with the Strategic Director (and Section 151 Officer if necessary) proper controls over the funds would be retained but would allow flexibility in terms of the timing and the speed of when the monies were used.

 

The monies which were negotiated fell within three general categories:

 

a)           Monies received for a specific purpose on a specific site (i.e. money received for play equipment) where the Council was just acting as a trustee and therefore no formal approval would be required.  These monies would be passed down to a Town or Parish Council.

 

b)           Monies taken when the circumstances were less specific i.e. money for an identified recreational need in the vicinity of the site.  The Council would need to identify where the money needed to be spent.  In these circumstances Cabinet approval would be necessary.

 

c)            Most monies received for Norfolk County Council would go to straight to that authority. Approval was not necessary as Breckland Council just acted as a “post box”.

 

The Executive Member for Planning and the Environment supported the recommendation but felt that Ward Members and the Town and Parish Councils should be involved at the beginning of the planning process.  This would enable Members to see how the monies had been spent.  Following a request from the Opposition Leader, it was agreed that consultation should include the Ward Member and relevant Town and Parish Councils. 

 

The Executive Member for the Transformation Portfolio asked whether a S106 Agreement could be put in place for drainage matters.  In response, the Environmental Planning Manager explained that relevant authorities such as Anglian Water would have to be consulted so that such a scheme could be brought about.  The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission felt that problems could evolve from such a scheme, particularly where drainage was concerned.  If a local community developed drainage problems, which were another authority’s responsibility, the cost of repairs etc could far exceed the commuted sum.  He asked how the monies were monitored and spent when Breckland Council was not in control.  The Environmental Planning Manager pointed out that the Council could only take money that was related to the development.  It was very much a negotiation; money towards a school had to be spent on a school in that area.  A monitoring system had been developed and Members would receive bi-monthly reports and a S106 report which would be attached to future Development Control Agendas.

 

Members were informed that the public was already aware what the community benefits would be as planning applications had to have an agreed S106 Agreement at the time of approval.

 

The Executive Member for Governance left the room as she declared an interest in an LDF related matter concerning Thetford.

 

The options available to Members were:

 

1)           To operate within the existing Finance Procedure rules so that every scheme which included a commuted sum would be presented to Cabinet for approval.

 

2)           To give delegated authority to the Executive Member in consultation with the Strategic Director.

 

3)           To allow Section 106 Agreement funds to be spent within the terms of the legal agreement by the Strategic Director without reference to Cabinet or the Executive Member.

 

The reasons for the recommendation were:

 

1)           The use of the Section 106 monies had already been agreed through the signing of the legal agreement between the Council and the other parties involved.  The Council was unable to use the monies for any other purpose.

 

2)           By allocating the resources through a delegated decision with the Executive Member, in consultation with the Strategic Director (and Section 151 Officer if necessary) proper controls over the funds would be retained but would allow flexibility in terms of timing and speed of when the monies were used.

 

RESOLVED that delegated authority be given to the Executive Member, in consultation with the Strategic Director, and following consultation with the Ward Member and the relevant Town and Parish Council, for the allocation of commuted sum monies from Section 106 Agreements.

Supporting documents: