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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/12/2007
Proposed Planning Infrastructure Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)



APPENDIX M
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE – 4TH DECEMBER 2007

Title:
PROPOSED PLANNING INFRASTRUCTURE CONTRIBUTIONS SUPPLEMENTARY PLANNING DOCUMENT (SPD)

[Portfolio Holder for Planning: Cllr B A Ellis]
[Wards Affected: All]

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to seek authority to consult on the draft Planning Infrastructure Contributions SPD, which will form part of the Council’s Local Development Framework (LDF). The proposed SPD is an evolution of the Section 106 Agreements Code of Practice that was produced as part of the Surrey Planning Collaboration Project.

Environmental implications:

Implementation of the proposed SPD should have positive environmental benefits, as the intention is to ensure that even small-scale developments make a contribution to mitigating the impact on local services and infrastructure

Social / community implications:

Implementation of the proposed SPD should have positive social/community benefits, as the intention is to ensure that even small-scale developments make a contribution to mitigating the impact on local services and infrastructure

E-Government implications:

The intention is to make full use of the web site and emails as a means of publicising the consultation and in giving respondents the opportunity to do this via email.

Resource and legal implications:

The production of the SPD, including any necessary consultation material, will be managed within existing resources. Where possible, use will be made of the collaborative work carried out by various Surrey districts in developing the original Code of Practice.

Subject to Council approval, the aim is to adopt the proposed SPD in April 2008. There will be resource implications in terms of managing the assessment of the associated legal agreements and managing and monitoring the financial contributions that are received. The intention is that the total charges will include an allowance for the monitoring costs and also legal costs.


Background

1. Early in 2006, the 11 Surrey districts, together with the County Council, started a collaboration project under the guidance of the Planning Advisory Service and the Improvement and Development Agency. A number of areas for collaboration work were investigated and it soon became apparent that as a result of advice in Circular 05/2005, the development of more robust S106 practices was a priority for most districts. A specific collaboration project was set up to develop what eventually became known as the 'Code of Practice for Planning Obligations and Infrastructure Provision in Surrey'.

2. The work was also informed by two pieces of national advice published in August 2006: the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Best Practice Guidance, and the Audit Commission's “Securing Community Benefits Through The Planning Process”.

3. In June 2006, during the preparation of the Code of Practice, the Collaboration Project Group dealing with this consulted with local developers drawn from within each participating local authority area. The Project Group also took Counsel’s advice on the proposed Code of Practice, including the model legal agreement that developers would be expected to submit with their planning applications.

4. The Code of Practice was aimed particularly at securing contributions from small-scale developments, which currently make little or no contribution to mitigating their impacts on local services and infrastructure. Whilst individually each small scheme may have a relatively small impact, the cumulative impact of a number of small schemes is much more significant. Moreover, much of the new development in Waverley is relatively small in scale.

5. The Code of Practice that was produced by the Project Group seeks contributions from new residential and commercial developments to a range of county and district level services, including transportation, education, leisure/recreation and community facilities.

Consideration by the Council in March 2007

6. In March 2007 the Council considered a report relating to the proposed Code of Practice. It was resolved that the Council would start to apply the Code to all new planning applications submitted from 1st July 2007. This was to be in advance of the longer-term aim of converting the Code into a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) as part of the LDF. However, when the implementation of the Code was discussed at a Waverley Planning Agents Forum in May 2007, those agents attending were of the view that there had not been adequate consultation by the Collaboration Group. There was also a concern that the Council had not given adequate notice of the proposed implementation of the Code.

7. In response to these concerns the decision was made to delay implementation of the Code until 1st November 2007 and, in the meantime, the Council wrote to the agents making them aware of the proposed implementation date and giving them the opportunity to make comments on the Code if they wished.

8. Some further concerns were raised and, although the Collaboration Project Group had sought Counsel’s advice in the draft Code, the Council’s own legal advice recommended against implementing the Code as originally proposed. This was partly in response to a concern about the consultation, but also because, in some areas, the specific evidence justifying some of the proposed charges, and the arrangements for managing and releasing the contributions, were not considered to be adequate.

9. At the Executive meeting in October, Members received an update on the Code. Officers had concluded that it would be better to further delay implementation. This was partly to allow more time to address any perceived shortcomings in terms of the evidence etc. The Executive decided to delay implementation until April 2008. The decision was also made to move ahead with the proposal to convert the Code into an SPD, again with the aim of adoption in April 2008. Implementation of the Code through the SPD and improvement of the evidence base for contributions would, it was considered, ensure that the Code was as robust as possible to challenge by developers and their agents.

The Proposed Supplementary Planning Document

10. The decision to move ahead with the document as an SPD brings with it certain disciplines. In particular, the Government Regulations set out a prescribed period for consultation on a draft SPD. It is also necessary to subject the document to Sustainability Appraisal (SA).

11. Attached as Annexe 1 to this report is a copy of the latest draft of the proposed document, and its associated appendices. In the process of developing the draft Code of Practice into a draft SPD, officers are seeking to amplify both the supporting evidence justifying the charges, and the information regarding the use of the funds. This work is on-going, both in terms of the County services/infrastructure (transportation, Education and Libraries) and the local services. This work is partly Waverley-specific (particularly in relation to the local services) and partly in conjunction with other Surrey Districts.

12. The aim is to commence the main consultation on the proposed SPD as soon as possible, ideally before the end of the year. If consultation can commence before Christmas then an additional two weeks will be given to take account of the Christmas holidays. The commencement of the consultation is linked to the completion of the associated Sustainability Appraisal (SA). To date, officers in Reigate and Banstead have taken the lead on this issue, on behalf of the Collaboration Project Group. Your officers are working closely with the colleagues from other districts, particularly in Reigate and Banstead, to complete the SA that is required to accompany the consultation on the draft SPD.

13. Following the consultation period, officers will assess all the representations, proposing changes to the draft SPD where necessary. The outcome from the consultation and the revised SPD will then be considered by both the Environment and Leisure O & S Committee and the Executive before finally being taken to Council in April 2008 for adoption.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. the draft SPD be approved as the basis for public consultation; and

2. should further amendments be required to the pre-consultation document as a result of the ongoing work by officers as identified in the report, then the Director of Planning and Development, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Planning be authorised to make the necessary amendments.


Background Papers (DoPD)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.


CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Graham Parrott Telephone: 01483 523472
E-mail: gparrott@waverley.gov.uk




Comms/exec/2007-08/153