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T9: Planning Obligations

The planning process can be complex, especially given the range of land uses involved in the delivery of sustainable communities and the scope and breadth of issues that need to be considered and resolved.

One of the most quoted reasons for delay in the planning process is the time taken to negotiate developer contributions and subsequently agree, and complete any required Section 106 (S106) Agreement. In addition the process has generally been criticised for a perceived lack of transparency, certainty and accountability. The current economic downturn continues to impact on land and property values and is also a key influence on the potential scope and scale of developer contributions.

As a consequence of these issues the Government has over recent years promoted and consulted on a variety of amendments and improvements to the system of planning obligations as well as additional measures designed to capture land value increases and fund infrastructure requirements. The idea of a ‘Planning Gain Supplement’ first put forward by the Barker Review of Housing Supply (HM Treasury 2006) has been replaced by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Detailed regulations for CIL came into effect on the 6th April 2010 and the regulations introduced new statutory restrictions upon the use of S106 Planning Obligations.

The negotiation and conclusion of a S106 can be both complex and time consuming, often with developer contributions being a “show stopping” issue. Whatever mechanisms are used for delivering necessary infrastructure ATLAS believes the need for strong project and process management is clear as a part of the overall framework of handling a large scale development. This would help to save time, improve transparency and certainty.

Key elements to achieving this, in common with all aspects of large scale development, will be collaborative working, a holistic approach, reasoned justification, and an understanding of scheme viability. The process must move away from inappropriate and unsubstantiated demands and offers, to an accountable evidence based approach.

The information and advice set out in the overall ATLAS Guide and this topic paper is intended to provide good practice guidance for those involved in this important element of the overall planning assessment of a large scale development project. This paper concentrates on the main issues that need to be considered and gives guidance on working through the S106 process. The links below provide the legal and policy context for dealing with Planning Obligations.

Last Updated on Thursday 29/03/2012 - 11:55AM

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Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS), 2015