Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has recently released a consultation on plans to speed up the negotiation and completion of Section 106 Agreements. The consultation on these proposals opened on 20 February and closes on 19 March 2015, so a rapid response is required.
Since their introduction, Section 106 Agreements have been the subject of much scrutiny due to developers often incurring significant delays in obtaining planning permission. Whilst there are many reasons why Section 106 agreements take so long to complete, feedback from the sector suggests this comes down to the drawn-out negotiations and the contentious nature of agreeing the terms. There is a strong argument that if the terms were negotiated much earlier on, with more engagement with the council at the pre-application stage, the agreements would be much simpler and quicker to negotiate.
Determined to take steps to tackle the delays associated with Section 106 Agreements, and mitigate the block on economic development, the Government has made several proposals including:
- setting statutory timescales for agreement so the existing 8 to 13 week target is met;
- encouraging the use of standardised clauses to avoid the need for each clause to be drafted from scratch;
- setting expectations for pre-application negotiations and encouraging front-loaded discussions; and
- introducing a dispute resolution process for when negotiations have stalled or statutory or agreed time frames have elapsed.
So what does this mean for developers? Any guidance or legislation implemented following the consultation is likely to result in developers considering their Section 106 Agreements much earlier on in the planning application process.
The proposals also seek views on whether the requirement to provide affordable housing contributions acts as a barrier to development providing dedicated student accommodation.
If you would like to respond to the proposals to speed up Section 106 negotiations and on student accommodation please visit www.gov.uk/government/consultations/section-106-planning-obligations-speeding-up-negotiations and complete a response form.
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