NPPG update - Section 106 planning obligations

The DCLG has published revised planning guidance relating to Section 106 obligations imposed on small scale developers, custom and self-builders.

The following updates have been made to the guidance with links to the relevant sections:

Are there any circumstances where infrastructure contributions through planning obligations should not be sought from developers? 
There are specific circumstances where contributions for affordable housing and tariff style planning obligations (section 106 planning obligations) should not be sought from small scale and self-build development.

Do the restrictions on seeking planning obligations apply to Rural Exception Sites?
The restrictions on seeking planning obligations contributions do not apply to development on Rural Exception Sites - although affordable housing and tariff-style contributions should not be sought from any development consisting only of the construction of a residential annex or extension within the curtilage of the buildings comprising an existing home.

What are tariff-style contributions? 
Some authorities seek planning obligations contributions to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to provide common types of infrastructure for the wider area.

Can planning obligations be pooled where the threshold does apply? 
For sites where the threshold applies, planning obligations should not be sought to contribute to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to fund the provision of general infrastructure in the wider area.

How does the 10-unit threshold relate to the statutory definition of major development?
For the purposes of section 106 planning obligations only the definition of 10-units or less applies. This is distinct from the definition of major development in article 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010.

Are there any exceptions to the 10-unit threshold? 
Local planning authorities may choose to apply a lower threshold of 5-units or less to development in designated rural areas being areas as described under section 157 of the Housing Act 1985, which includes National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. No affordable housing or tariff-style contributions should then be sought from these developments.

What is the procedure for claiming a commuted contribution under a planning obligation? 
The terms of commuted contributions should form part of the discussions between a developer and a local planning authority and be reflected in any planning obligations agreement. Agreements should include clauses stating when the local planning authority should be notified of the completion of units within the development and when the funds should be paid. Both parties may wish to use the issue of a building regulations compliance certificate (called a completion certificate when given by a local authority and a final certificate when given by an approved inspector) as a trigger for payment.

Does this mean that no planning obligations can be sought for development under these 5 or 10-unit thresholds? 
Some planning obligations may still be required to make a development acceptable in planning terms. For sites where a threshold applies, planning obligations should not be sought to contribute to affordable housing or to pooled funding ‘pots’ intended to fund the provision of general infrastructure in the wider area. Authorities can still seek obligations for site specific infrastructure - such as improving road access and the provision of adequate street lighting - where this is appropriate, to make a site acceptable in planning terms.  They may also seek contributions to fund measures with the purpose of facilitating development that would otherwise be unable to proceed because of regulatory or EU Directive requirements.

What is the vacant building credit? 
Where a vacant building is brought back into any lawful use, or is demolished to be replaced by a new building, the developer should be offered a financial credit equivalent to the existing gross floorspace of relevant vacant buildings when the local planning authority calculates any affordable housing contribution which will be sought. Affordable housing contributions would be required for any increase in floorspace.

What is the process for determining the vacant building credit? 
Where there is an overall increase in floorspace in the proposed development, the Local Planning Authority should calculate the amount of affordable housing contributions required from the development as set out in their Local Plan. A ‘credit’ should then be applied which is the equivalent of the gross floorspace of any relevant vacant buildings being brought back into use or demolished as part of the scheme and deducted from the overall affordable housing contribution calculation.

Does the vacant building credit apply to any vacant building being brought back into use?

The government has also published consultation response reports on Planning Performance and Planning Contributions

Date: 28/11/2014 Date of publication

Author: DCLG

DCP link: This item updates DCP section 4.6115

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