A government move to ease deadlock in negotiations about planning gain payments has been welcomed by the Builders Merchants’ Federation.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that ministers will assign ‘honest brokers’ to help restart negotiations in several parts of the country between local authorities and property developers on Section 106 agreements.
These experts will mediate between the parties to give technical advice and guidance to resolve disputes in their role as intermediaries. The aim is to revise those agreements that are no longer economically-feasible in today’s difficult economic circumstances.
In October 2011, the BMF contributed to the DCLG consultation on the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that caused fierce public debate.
One of the less-contentious aspects ministers asked for input on was planning conditions and obligations. In its submission, the BMF predicted that planning gain payments were unlikely to end.
The BMF agrees with a widely-held industry view that talks on S106 agreements can be fraught – and negotiations can take longer to settle than the original planning application.
The merchants’ organisation would like to see efforts taken to iron out inconsistencies to provide more certainty under the NPPF that came into force on 1 April 2012. Any clarification on the primary purposes that monies raised by planning gain can be spent on will help ease negotiations.