Housebuilder says it has asked councils to extend section 106 payment deadlines in wake of lockdown

The planning chief of one of the UK’s biggest retirement housing providers has said the firm is continuing to progress applications despite the Covid-19 lockdown, but has asked some councils to allow extensions to section 106 agreement payment deadlines.

A McCarthy & Stone development site. Pic: Elliott Brown, Flickr
A McCarthy & Stone development site. Pic: Elliott Brown, Flickr

Appearing on a panel on retirement housing at the virtual Planning for Housing North & Midlands conference yesterday, McCarthy & Stone land and planning director Gary Day said the coronavirus crisis is a “major issue” for the company because its customers are all in lockdown and sales have “suffered significantly”. 

But he said the company has not “stopping everything”, adding: “We are keeping planning applications and contracts live. 

"We haven’t gone back to revisit the viability of section 106 agreements because we don’t think it’s appropriate. 

"But we are seeking agreement from local authorities to extend payment dates and most local authorities have been understanding.”

But Day said the retirement housing sector is held back by obligations to pay contributions towards affordable homes. 

He said that retirement homes providers often want to buy sites near to town centres, where it faces competition from commercial users, which do not suffer the same obligations. 

Delivering a keynote presentation earlier, the British Property Federation's director of real estate policy Ian Fletcher told delegates that some build to rent developers are continuing efforts to deliver projects during the lockdown. 

“There are more difficulties with social distancing guidelines keeping construction going but there is certainly more activity than we are seeing in other parts of the [property] sector because the demand will be there at the end of this crisis for a quality rented offer.”

Fletcher said build to rent provision will “undoubtedly” have a part to play in repurposing town and city centres, many of which already faced challenges before the lockdown. 

But he said there would be challenges attracting backing for build to rent developments in smaller town centres because investors tend to prefer larger-scale opportunities. 

Planning for Housing 2020 North & Midlands was organised by Planning magazine, and sponsored by Kings Chambers and Pegasus Group.


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