Planning obligations, also known as Section 106 agreements (based on that section of the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act) are legal agreements made between local authorities and developers. They can be attached to a planning permission to make development acceptable when it would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms.
The land itself, rather than the person or organisation that develops the land, is bound by a section106 (s106) agreement. Any future owners will need to take this into account.
Planning obligations are used to:
- prescribe the nature of development (such as requiring a given portion of housing is affordable)
- compensate for loss or damage created by a development (such as loss of open space)
- mitigate a development’s impact (such as through increased public transport provision)
In addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), infrastructure projects can be secured by the use of these s106 agreements. Planning obligations are created that secure infrastructure through:
- financial contributions paid to the council to deliver specific infrastructure projects capable of serving the development or
- in-kind infrastructure works carried out by developers within their development site
S106 agreements must follow strict legal guidelines. A planning obligation may only constitute a reason for granting planning permission for the development if the obligation is:
- necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms
- directly related to the development
- fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development
The Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning document (SPD), February 2015, sets out the council’s approach to securing infrastructure and explains the relationship with the CIL.
Developments that have an impact on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) will be required to provide mitigation. This includes provision for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) and Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM), which will be secured by planning obligation.