Cardiff-based design and engineering consultancy Arcadis, formerly Hyder Consulting, was appointed by the Welsh government in February to undertake research into the relationship between stalled sites and section 106 agreements.
Its study, published last week, says just over 400 sites are currently stalled across Wales, "of which nearly half involve a section 106 agreement". It notes that at least 7,600 homes are planned for these sites.
The report says there is a range of factors leading to the delays, including "changing market conditions and associated viability concerns", "difficulties and delays in securing finance" and "significant variation across the country in terms of procedure, approaches and resourcing of local planning authorities as applied to section 106 matters".
Arcadis’ report also identifies "site-specific factors that vary from application to application", "changing developer circumstances" and "general level of awareness of the section 106 process".
The Community Infrastructure Levy "will introduce still further variation between authorities, with some already pursuing the levy and others not", the report adds.
The consultancy makes a number of recommendations to "improve the transparency of the system and encourage greater awareness and knowledge of processes within it".
It advises that "it would be useful for all authorities to produce supplementary planning guidance (SPG) specifically in relation to planning obligations, in order to provide prospective applicants with clarity surrounding the process at an early stage".
Its report adds that "there could be benefits in a common approach and guidance on the contents [of the guidance] in order to assist authorities in preparing updated SPG."
While Arcadis recommends that each local planning authority should make "standard agreements available to applicants online at pre-application stage", councils across Wales should work together, it urges, with the help of the Welsh government "to provide standard agreements and clauses".