ODPM proposes optional land levy for developers

Developers will be given the option of paying a set tariff in the government's latest attempt to reform planning gain.

Under ODPM proposals, set out in a consultation paper published as Planning went to press this week, applicants will be able to choose to pay their section 106 contributions in the form of a locally-set tariff.

If they do not want to accept the level of contributions outlined in the local authority's tariff-scheme, they will be able to negotiate section 106 agreements through the normal negotiation process.

The idea behind having two options is that developers that want greater speed and certainty can select the tariff, while those that want to negotiate can do so.

The arrangements for planning gain will be implemented via enabling legislation in the form of an amendment to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill. The amendment is due to be tabled when the standing committee reports to the House of Commons this month.

The Conservative front bench was briefed on the proposal ahead of this week's announcement in a bid to head off attacks that the introduction of a revised scheme would be a "stealth tax".

But shadow planning spokesman Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said giving applicants a choice would do little to speed up the system because there would still have to be negotiations to determine spending on infrastructure.

British Property Federation planning director Chris Morley welcomed the proposal. "This is sensible provided that the tariff is coming in at a reasonable level," he added.

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