Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 27TH APRIL 2015
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 24TH MARCH 2015
“ SECTION 106 LEGAL AGREEMENTS - PROTOCOL FOR CONSULTATION ON IMPLEMENTATION OF SPEND (REF) -
Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration. At its meeting on 26th January Cabinet’s endorsement had been sought for an updated protocol for Member consultation on the use of financial contributions received from Section 106 obligations. The report outlined that the Council had the power to enter into legal agreements with developers under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 seeking contributions from developers to mitigate negative development impacts and facilitate a development which might otherwise have not occurred.
The background to the report advised that in February 2008 the then Cabinet and Planning Committee had endorsed a protocol for Member consultation on Section 106 spend, following a review by the Ward Member Consultation Task and Finish Group of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources). This had subsequently been reviewed by Cabinet in 2012 following concerns that financial contributions were not being spent quickly enough, once received from developers. The 2012 amended protocol set out that when financial contributions were received the relevant Ward, Cabinet Members and Officers from the relevant service areas are notified at the same time and options for spend considered and proposed by the relevant service area before further consultation was undertaken with Ward and Cabinet Members and a scheme for implementation agreed.
Following this consultation, the Director of Development Services made the final decision that in the event that the local Member was aggrieved with his decision the decision was to be called into Planning Committee to determine. Since the introduction of the protocol, this had only occurred on one occasion in respect of an education facilities contribution from the development of the former lower school site at Cowbridge. As a result of this case, the process had been reviewed and an amended protocol had been drafted to reflect the fact that decisions on capital projects funded by Section 106 contributions were a matter for the Executive and not the Planning Committee. The amended protocol was attached at Appendix A to the report.
At a meeting on 14th November, 2014, the Community Liaison Committee considered the annual Section 106 Review 2013/14 report and recommended that Cabinet be requested to consider the feasibility of including consultation with Town and Community Councils in the process. Cabinet considered this request on 15th December, 2014, and resolved “That the comments made about consultation with Town and Community Councils be noted, however, it should be for the respective Vale Councillor for the area to liaise with their Community Council in line with the protocol attached as an appendix to the report’. In this regard, it was accepted that Town and Community Councils could comment on proposals and potential Section 106 Agreements at the application stage, particularly as officers and Members considered the need for mitigation at that stage. In addition it was noted that as local Ward Members they were also consulted on proposals for projects once money was received, this then provided another mechanism for Town and Community Councils to comment on proposals. The approach was deemed to be at an appropriate level of engagement given the need to balance engagement against the timely implementation of capital schemes to mitigate new development. A letter outlining the process had been sent to all Town and Community Councils in 2011, a copy of which had been attached at Appendix B to the report.
Members concurred that there were no major concerns with the detail contained within the Protocol attached at Appendix A, but suggested that the accompanying letter by Councillor James in 2011 be recirculated to all Town and Community Council’ highlighting the paragraph which includes ‘encourage all Town and Community Councils to consider such matters when they are formally consulted on planning applications in their area’.
Reference was also made to the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which was likely to be a replacement for some of the issues currently addressed by the Section 106 process. The Operational Manager advised that in the future the Council would have to be specific about what it intended spending any monies on advising that consultation would therefore be of primary importance at the planning application stage. He took the opportunity to further advise Committee of his intention to provide training sessions for Members regarding the Community Infrastructure Levy and how agreements would be made in the future. Members requested that the training be open to all Elected Members of the Vale Council and similar sessions arranged for Town and Community Councillors.
The Cabinet Member for Regeneration, with permission to speak stated that the intention was to build on the previous process of Section 106 to ensure that funding was earmarked appropriately and reiterated that local Ward Members were the Council’s conduit for consultation. In her view, it was important to ensure there was a more strategic approach to distributing Section 106 monies which she considered compared favourably to the approach required under the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). In referring to the comment that five developments could be grouped together for Section 106 purposes, the Operational Manager confirmed that the legal advice that had been provided to date for the Vale was that the five should be site specific projects. However, he was aware that other Local Authorities were operating a broader approach which he considered was not the intention of the legislation.
Members commented on ‘the wriggle room’ for negotiation with developers with the Operational Manager advising that there was some room but it was unfortunately less than previously.
Following a query from a Member as to whether the community of Rhoose should establish a Community Council to ensure they had another voice in planning considerations, the Operational Manager advised that that was a question for the residents of Rhoose.
Following the discussions it was subsequently
(1) T H A T training for Elected Members be arranged as outlined above and that similar training for Elected Members of Town and Community Councils also be arranged via the Community Liaison Committee.
(2) T H A T the letter dated 5th August, 2011 be recirculated to all Town and Community Councils reminding them to engage early on in the process and prior to the application being determined.
(3) T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the recommendations of the Committee forwarded to Cabinet for information.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To apprise Members.
(2) To remind all Town and Community Councillors of the contents of the letter dated August 2011.
(3) To inform Cabinet of the views of the Committee."