Local government voices ‘apprehension' over Section 106 changes

 

Restrictions on the allocation of Section 106 funding for infrastructure coming into force this month have left local government ‘apprehensive’ about the future of travel planning.

National introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on 6 April will limit the number of developer contributions any single infrastructure project can receive.

New Government measures will mean local authorities will no longer be allowed to pool more that five Section 106 obligations together to fund a single infrastructure scheme.

Section 106 requirements will also have to be scaled back to schemes directly related to a specific site.

Speaking to Transport Network this month, vice chair to the National Transport Committee at the Local Government Technical Advisers Group, John Elliot, said that while travel planning was ‘one of the most successful areas of expenditure’, he approached ‘anything that takes away money which helps to prop up that sort of expenditure, with apprehension.’

Mr Elliot warned that the ‘enormous’ cuts faced by local authorities could mean certain town halls may have to reduce investment in long-term travel management strategies following the Section 106 reforms.

‘Some will try and keep [investment] there,’ he said. ‘In a lot of cases, councils will just say there’s no help for this at all, we’ve got such serious cuts, we’ve got to cut more work on this front.’

However Mr Elliot outlined how some councils, armed with the necessary ‘skills and energy’, would be ‘working on loopholes’ surrounding the latest CIL laws.

Some have suggested projects could be divided into different parts to circumvent the rules, for instance a school's classrooms and hall could be billed as different schemes.

Government guidance states when the levy is introduced nationally from April 2015 'no more may be collected in respect of a specific infrastructure project or a type of infrastructure through a section 106 agreement, if five or more obligations for that project or type of infrastructure have already been entered into since 6 April 2010, and it is a type of infrastructure that is capable of being funded by the levy'.

'Where a Section 106 agreement makes provision for a number of staged payments as part of a planning obligation, these payments will collectively count as a single obligation in relation to the pooling restriction.

'For provision that is not capable of being funded by the levy, such as affordable housing, local planning authorities are not restricted in terms of the numbers of obligations that may be pooled, but they must have regard to the wider policies on planning obligations set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (in England) and Planning Policy Wales (in Wales).

'Individual projects on the charging authority’s list of infrastructure that it proposes to fund from the levy (commonly known as a ‘Regulation 123 list’ in reference to the relevant levy regulation) cannot be funded by Section 106 contributions.'

 
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