A new bill aimed at fast-tracking large-scale developments could help to unlock large pieces major land, according to a Birmingham planning expert.
The Growth & Infrastructure Bill, which is in its final stages in the House of Lords, proposes that developers should be able to bypass local authorities and go direct to the Secretary of State.
It also proposes new action on stalled developments, allowing developers to require local councils to reconsider their Section 106 agreements agreed in more prosperous market conditions.
At present there is no obligation for Section 106 agreements to be revisited for a period of up to five years, unless local authorities agree to it. Under the proposed new bill, this would change and 106 obligations relating to affordable housing, regardless of their age, can be renegotiated if they make a scheme economically unviable.
Nigel Simkin, associate director, planning and development in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Birmingham office, said: “Realistically nobody wants to go to battle with local authorities and bypass councils and this element is now being watered down and restricted to those councils which show a consistent failing to determine applications within statutory time limits.
“What most interests Jones Lang LaSalle, relates back to a ministerial statement on housing and growth in September 2012 which states that “it is vital that the affordable housing element of Section 106 agreements negotiated during different economic conditions is not allowed to undermine the viability of sites and prevent any construction of new housing”.
“This shows a pragmatic approach from the Coalition to seek to enable land owners and developers to renegotiate affordable housing obligations where they are unviable.
“Whilst many local authorities have taken a fairly lenient position on the five year rule in the past and allowed the 106 to be renegotiated in advance of this deadline, the provisions of the bill, as currently drafted, would place a statutory duty on the local planning authority to reconsider affordable obligations entered into through a section 106 agreement.
“This could be the real deal breaker for developers and landowners trying to unlock land and as the bill heads for Royal Assent, we are already working with a number of clients, suggesting they review their 106 agreements and see if development could now be a possibility.”