Members of the Prosperous Communities Committee had previously requested an update in relation to planning obligations, often known as Section 106 agreements. The report sought to promote a better understanding of the process and to recognise when and how monies may be requested and used. The rules relating to Section 106s were detailed in paragraph 2.3 of the report and it was noted that this report would likely form a series of reports for committee consideration as work continued.
Debate ensued and Visiting Member, Councillor Tom Smith sought indication of how far back the review would extend? Whether the outcome would also be reported to the Planning Committee? And when it was likely the new IT system referred to would be operational?
In responding, Officers advised that the review would go as far back as 2010 but would be guided by evidence prior to that. Officers were happy to present the outcome report to the Planning Committee also and it was likely the new system would be in place by September 2017. Officers outlined the work which was currently being undertaken in anticipation of this including the transfer of data and the development of new processes.
Members welcomed the report, the ongoing work and the new role. It was further indicated that the Committee would welcome a more detailed report regarding monies held from off-site contributions for affordable housing, including the level of monies held and any time limits which applied. Officers were agreeable to this suggestion.
It was brought to Members’ attention that the report following the CIL Examination had recently been published. It had recommended a reduction in the rate applied. A brief discussion ensued regarding how the charges would levied, what CIL would contribute to and the importance the Council had ensuring communities were supported.
In responding Officers indicated there would be a workshop held in the Autumn with Parish Councils. Communities where development was seen and where CIL was applicable would receive 15% of the contribution (in the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan) or 25 % if they had an approved Plan.
In responding to Members’ questions, Officers confirmed that CIL did operate on the same terms of S106 in so much as if the money was not spent it would not have to be returned to the developer. Furthermore the District Council could not make the Parish spend the money or dictate where the money should be spent.
A Member shared details of the perception in some local communities regarding the spending of S106 monies.
In responding, Officers whilst acknowledging the perception, reaffirmed the rules regarding levying and spending S106 monies. They could only legally be levied to alleviate the impact of the development, thus this was a perception. However, it was acknowledged the Authority could do more to be open and transparent about where monies were levied and spent and it was hoped in time this would be an additional facility on the Authority’s website, enabling communities to clearly see this level of information.
(a) the information contained within the report be received and noted;
(b) a further report regarding monies held from off-site contributions for affordable housing, including the level of monies held and any time limits which apply, be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee for consideration.
Note: Councillor Paul Howitt-Cowan left the meeting during consideration of this items and prior to the vote having taken place.
RESOLVED that the information contained within the report be received and noted.