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Can the Town Council get money from developers?

August 18, 2020 7:48 AM
By Cllr Vilnis Vesma

Play area signThe Town Council can bid for what is known as "Section 106" money whenever it sees an application for a major development, residential or otherwise. 'Major' usually means ten or more dwellings; requests can be made in relation to smaller developments but are unlikely to succeed. Bids should be for capital projects that offset some defined planning harm arising from the proposed development. By default such projects relate to youth or adult recreation facilities (on- or off-site) but that does not preclude projects in other categories if some planning harm can arguably be offset by them.

Early engagement with the relevant case officer at the District Council is strongly recommended once a planning application is made, but if possible the Town Council should be talking to developers before applications are lodged.

The Town Council is at the end of the queue when it comes to Section 106 funding. The County and District Councils are likely to be making bids as well, for items such as highways, schools, libraries, and affordable housing. These take priority and it is prudent, therefore, to request not the whole amount needed for the project, but a quarter or a fifth (say). This increases the probability of securing the requested contribution and takes into account that there is a limit of five successful requests for any given purpose. With this 'five-bites' limit in mind, it is advantageous to make requests quite specific in scope. For example there could be five requests related to, say, a skate park, a further five requests for a pump track, and so on for other projects; otherwise the default position is just 'youth and adult recreation' with five requests potentially exhausting that whole category until the total provision in the area is next reassessed.

Cllr. Gill Moseley

Cllr Gill Moseley

Section 106 funds, when received, would be held by the District Council on behalf of the Town Council. Developers may seek to impose deadlines on the use of their Section-106 contributions but this can be circumvented by 'allocating' the money to the target project. Appropriate legal wording in Section-106 agreements can help to ensure this.

Cllr Gill Moseley sits on the Forest of Dean District Council's planning committee and is also a Town Councillor.