Having suggested already that section 123 LGA 1972 (best consideration) and section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 (highways contributions) should be repealed, this week we aim higher. Let’s repeal s106 TCPA 1990 entirely. Imagine planning without planning agreements.
In CIL world off-site obligations should largely be covered by CIL, and everything else could easily be addressed in conditions. The nay-sayers will argue that affordable housing has to be dealt with in an agreement. Why? Largely because planners try to exercise unnecessary management control over a sector that is already heavily regulated. Planning should perhaps concentrate on the key issue of ensuring that mixed and balanced development is delivered. That can easily be done with conditions. Others will argue that financial contributions need to be covered by agreement. In law that is not true and, in any event, there should be little future need for contributions. Abolition of s106 agreements would make the planning process much quicker, and avoid endless wasted hours in negotiations that are largely sterile. It would probably require a Council to seek comments on draft conditions, with a costs sanction following almost automatically if an unrealistic condition is imposed and needs to be appealed.
In reality, on large projects there would still be a need for infrastructure provision agreements with developers agreeing how CIL should be spent and on what, and settling programmes and specifications for the delivery of schools and community facilities. Those would, however, become the exception rather than the norm and would not be constrained by idiocies that blight the s106 agreement process like the restrictions on land transfers, and prevention of payments to third parties, that affect planning agreements.