Posted: Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:42 by Stephen Derry

National planning law states that housing developers should be required to pay towards the provision of long-term community facilities which the residents of their new dwellings will require. This covers all aspects of a resident's lifetime, play areas, schooling, healthcare, sport and recreation, community buildings, and even burial grounds. (Note the general services to the residents such as rubbish collection are paid for by Council Tax and are outside this requirement). This long-term requirement is defined in planning law, Section 106, and the payments are often referred to as S106 payments.

The planning authority, Harborough District Council (HDC), has the responsibility to negotiate and sign a legal agreement for this with the developer as a condition of granting planning permission. For practical reasons, there is a formulaic calculation of the money due, which is based on the number of dwellings, and the number of residents likely to live in them based on the number of bedrooms of each dwelling. This mechanism provides separate sums of money for specific purposes (e.g. education, health, open spaces, sports and recreation, community buildings and burial grounds). This can then be fine-tuned to match the specific circumstances of each development. The money is paid by the developer to the planning authority (HDC) in stages as the build progresses.

HDC then has the responsibility of spending the money for the specific purposes for which it was paid. Some money goes to the County Council for education, health, emergency services etc. Some is spent directly by the planning authority for the services it provides itself. Sums earmarked for facilities within the parish, are held by HDC and advertised as available as grants to organisations within the parish affected by the development. These relate to provision of open-spaces, sports and recreation facilities, community buildings, and burial grounds. If the sums of money are not spent for the purposes for which they were granted, the developer can (and does) claim that the original demand for the money was not justified, and the money has to be returned. You might have seen examples of this in the local press, typically where money was obtained from developers for bus-passes for new residents, and then the bus-passes were never used.

What do we need to do in our parish?

Two separate tasks:

  1. Individual organisations need to assess any community facilities they provide and decide if they will be adequate to cope with the increase in population due to the housing development. If their facility cannot do this, then they need to document the case for this, and send it to HDC (copied to the parish council), who will use the information as justification for their demands on developers while negotiating S106 payments.
  1. When planning applications have been granted (which is now the case for all 3 developments in Houghton) the organisations as above need to monitor the payment of S106 money to HDC and be ready to apply for grants to increase the capability of their facility as it becomes available. The Parish Council will make efforts to maintain its current close links to HDC and to keep the community informed of the availability of S106 grants. HDC policy is to link closely with Parish Councils to maximise the uptake and productive use of the available funding.

As the current housing developments progress, the total sum of S106 money which will become available to our community is estimated to be several hundred-thousand pounds. If this is used wisely, it can make a great contribution to community resources. Currently (at July 2018) none of the S106 funding is yet available to be applied for, but initial payments by Davis for the Winckley Close development have been invoiced by HDC. Organisations eligible for grants should start to draft their applications. Grant application forms are available from the HDC website.

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