The Government is proposing changes to the planning process designed to speed up the inclusion of Section 106 requirements on new projects.
The Section 106 agreements put requirements on planning applicants to make the proposals suitable for the area. These include mitigating a scheme’s impact such as through requiring improved transport to service it, providing an affordable housing element or requiring contributions from the applicant to be spent on other local schemes.
However, the Government says the incorporation of these requirements can often lead to extended negotiations that delay the planning application process.
A new consultation has been launched by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) seeking views which it says could speed up the planning process, getting planning permission agreed and workers on site more quickly.
Brandon Lewis, minister of state communities and local government, said:
“Section 106 planning agreements can bring great benefits to local communities but too often they drag out planning applications for months.
“That’s why today I’m proposing measures that will speed up the process, get planning permissions granted quicker and workers on site earlier, all the while keeping the community benefits that these agreements can bring.”
The new proposals include setting clear time limits so section 106 negotiations are completed within the existing eight to 13 week target for planning applications to be processed. To this end, those involved in projects will have to start discussions at the beginning of the planning application process, rather than the current system where negotiations can often start towards the end.
A dispute resolution process will also be implemented to ensure negotiations conclude as fast as possible. The document proposes this
“fast-track” dispute resolution service could involve
“an external body or suitably qualified individual”, to help
“determine what was necessary to make a proposed development acceptable, and their judgement would need to be binding on the parties to the section 106 agreement.”
The consultation on these proposals will remain open until March 19, 2015.