Kick Start For Stalled Housing Development
The Parliamentary Yearbook is currently gathering news items for major features on
housing and regeneration and its impact in the current economic climate and has
been monitoring progress of the consultation process following the publication of the
Government’s Housing Strategy “Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for
England” in November last year
Expert brokers will spearhead a fresh drive to get stalled housing deals up and running and
builders back on moth-balled sites, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced
Glenigan Data, March 2012, estimates that there are currently 1,400 housing schemes of
over 10 housing units with planning permission that are stalled.
Mr Pickles is concerned that too much development is being stalled because of economically
unrealistic agreements negotiated between councils and developers at the height of the
housing boom. This results in no development, no regeneration and no community benefits
at all when agreements are no longer economically viable.
The deals, known legally as Section 106 agreements, require developers to make a financial
contribution to the community or provide housing, amenities or infrastructure as part of their
Teams of intermediaries will now offer a free-of-charge advice and support service to
councils and developers and will be available to help kick-start renegotiations of these deals
to stop them being a barrier to getting building underway.
Brokers will begin work immediately with an initial wave of councils that are keen to address
obstacles that are preventing development in their area before working with other councils
around the country. The experts will:
provide technical expertise to unlock negotiations
act as go-betweens in disputes
offer access to a range of support services.
The Government is today also launching a consultation that proposes giving developers the
option to ask councils to renegotiate Section 106 obligations if they were agreed prior to April
2010. Currently these obligations cannot be renegotiated for five years once a council
refuses a request for voluntary renegotiation by a developer.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
"Tackling problems with stalled development is essential to getting builders back on moth-
balled sites and building the homes we need. There is huge potential in sites to boost local
economies and we simply cannot afford to have them lying idle because of earlier
agreements that are no longer viable.
"The support and advice the expert brokers will offer is one of the many measures we have
introduced to get development underway and I hope councils grab this chance to make use
of the support we are offering.
"Our reforms to the planning system are already cutting planning red tape and making the
system simpler and more accessible to communities and businesses. And further changes
we're introducing will simplify national planning policy even more and streamline the
planning application process."
Councils in Leeds, Ipswich, Corby, Swindon, Ashford, Gloucester, Kirklees, Carlisle,
Northumberland and Durham will the first to benefit from the support offered by the expert
brokers and will identify key stalled sites they want to see back up and running.
And opening up the renegotiation process further will provide another new opportunity to
help get developments back on track, provide affordable housing and bring wider benefits for
Ministers are clear that any renegotiations of Section 106 agreements will not remove the
developer's obligation to provide critical infrastructure or other contributions to offset the
effects of the development, and they should not result in land banking.
Deals need to be realistic and deliverable and will take commitment from both councils and
developers to ensure they are delivered swiftly. And councils need to ensure they continue
to consider local decision making processes when agreeing new deals.
Teams of expert brokers, along with officials from the Department and the Homes and
Communities Agency will join together to work with the councils.
Pat Ritchie, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said:
"As a sector we need to see as many stalled sites as possible unlocked to deliver much
needed new homes. We are currently using our investment to do this through Get Britain
Building, while our support in unlocking large projects in the planning system - through our
ATLAS team - is highly valued by local authorities and the private sector.
"So where sites are stalled because of agreements signed under very different economic
conditions, we will work with councils to help see how we can get them moving again while
meeting the needs and priorities of local communities."
It is estimated that there are currently more than 1,400 housing schemes of more than 10
housing units with planning permission that are stalled and unblocking these developments
is a key part of the Government's Housing Strategy.
The support and advice being offered to councils is just one of a number of measures the
Government is taking to help boost development. The £570 million Get Britain Building fund
is tackling the housing shortage and creating jobs and the £770 million Growing Places Fund
is providing local areas with flexible funding to get the infrastructure built needed to build
Today's announcement is a key step in encouraging all local authorities to consider
renegotiating Section 106 agreements where development has stalled.
In March 2011, the chief planning officer wrote to planning authorities asking them to review
agreements. The new National Planning Policy Framework requires councils to take account
of market conditions and be sufficiently flexible to prevent development being stalled.
The Parliamentary Yearbook will continue to report on construction and housing issues and
their impact on the UK and Europe as we go through the months ahead. Construction is a
crucial sector for the UK and European economy, generating almost 10% of EU GDP and
providing 20 million jobs, mainly in micro and small enterprises. Competitiveness in the
construction sector can significantly influence the development of the overall economy.