Tuesday, February 05, 2008

BURA - Section 106 workshop

One day last week I went to a workshop on Section 106 as part of the BURA conference in Liverpool.

BURA are the British Urban Regeneration Authority.

The speakers were planners, developers and regeneration speakers and we then had a table discussion about the issue.

Section 106 is essentially money that private developers pay to local authorities.

IDEA explains it here

"Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows a local planning authority (LPA) to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation, with a land developer over a related issue. The obligation is sometimes termed as a 'Section 106 agreement'.

Such agreements can cover almost any relevant issue and can include sums of money.

Possible examples of S106 agreements could be:

the developer will transfer ownership of an area of woodland to a LPA with a suitable fee to cover its future maintenance

the local authority will restrict the development of an area of land, or permit only specified operations to be carried out on it in the future eg, amenity use

the developer will plant a specified number of trees and maintain them for a number of years

the developer will create a nature reserve

S106 agreements can act as a main instrument for placing restrictions on the developers, often requiring them to minimise the impact on the local community and to carry out tasks, which will provide community benefits."

Some of the local authorities present had used Section 106 to require that a percentage of the homes they built would be affordable for people on lower incomes.

In Liverpool we use it to fund maintenance of and improvements to parks and public open spaces, asking for perhaps about £1k per unit built. I understand that Manchester charges more like £5k per unit built. I dont know about other authorities.

We had an interesting presentation on how this is managed in London and the results of a survey done there asking planners and developers, separately, how they felt about the legislation, how it was working for them, how much best practice they shared with other authorities, what sorts of things it was spent on etc.

Lots of food for thought.

The Government is refining this a little and the emphasis is on "planning gain". What do you think? Should developers have to pay a little to the community out of its profits? What sort of things would you like to see such money spent on? What other agreements would you like to see the local authority come to with developers when agreeing to plans?

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