OK there's an argument to be had defending the decisions that Council's made in happier times to impose development charges by way of agreements under Section 106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. But the defences put up by planners are just daft.
The government want to allow the removal or amendment of s106 agreements on housing sites that remain undeveloped. Now, for there to be such an agreement, the local planning authority will need to have both granted planning permission and also to have negotiated a s106 agreement. Which makes these comments rather silly:
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, said: ‘The implications of the government’s drive towards bypassing local authorities are serious: local communities may well be marginalised.’
Malcolm Sharp, managing director at Huntingdonshire Council, said councils should be making the decisions on where housing is needed, and not the government.
‘It is only the minority of development that is poor and therefore refused,’ he said. ‘That judgement is made locally where it should be, by local councillors.’
Under the government's proposals sites where the cost of the s106 agreement is preventing development are those targeted. So local councils have already made a local judgement in granting permission. Moreover, the process of agreeing changes to a s106 starts (and in most cases ends) with the local council. It will only be where there isn't agreement that the Planning Inspectorate adjudicates.
But let's not let this get in the way of planners kicking out at rules that support growth and development!