Section 106 Legal Agreements - Position Statement (Agenda Item 8)
Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Development Services Manager presented the report which provided members with information on the current position regarding Section 106 Legal Agreements, also known as planning obligations.
The report explained how planning obligations were considered and monitored.
In answer to a question it was noted that the installation of footpath lighting for any scheme required the land to have been adopted in the first instance. In some cases, for example, this might involve the District Council having first to adopt adjoining open space before the County Council could adopt a footpath running beside or crossing it, before the lighting could be installed. This could be a more complicated process if more than one developer or landowner was involved.
A member made the point that developers could be faced with multiple costs for meeting obligations such as easements, affordable housing, remedying contaminated land, in addition to S106 Agreements, that could result in some sites becoming unviable for development, especially for small developers.
The case of a specific site at Thetford was raised by Mr. Kybird and it was asked whether the Open Space obligation on the site would be delivered. The Deputy Chief Executive replied that a meeting was taking place that day and he would let Mr. Kybird know the outcome. Mr. Kybird felt there were lessons to be learned from this case as to how S106 Agreements were applied.
A further question from a member asked how S106 receipts were allocated to the villages and how villages could apply for money to be spent on provision of, say, open space in their area.
It was explained that current policy was to group parishes and take advice from the parish or town council as to what was required.
So far as affordable housing receipts were concerned, advice was taken from the Housing Team in consultation with the Registered Social Landlords as to the release of funding for schemes.
A member referred to a case at Watton where a developer had gone out of business half-way through a project and asked what happened in such cases.
(At this point, Mr. J.D. Rogers declared a personal interest as a County Councillor involved in authorising the S106 in this case.)
The Development Services Manager explained that if the S106 contribution had already been made, there was no problem. If not, the successor in title would become responsible for the same obligations. In some circumstances where the trigger points for the contributions had been passed, legal advice would be taken on how to proceed. In the case at Watton, the District and County Councils had to take a view on how to proceed. However, members noted that there had been no loss of monies to the Council from such cases over the years.
A member added that not all monies related to S106 Agreements but to education provisions under Section 278 Agreements.
In concluding the item, the Chairman welcomed that there were mechanisms in place on how planning obligations monies were received, spent and monitored and that the Commission would be glad to have periodic reports in future on spends, in particular to show how total spends in Table 2 (affordable housing) were being applied through the Housing team.