At a recent planning appeal relating to a large development in Suffolk, an inspector has rejected elements of a s106 requirement which demanded payment of annual monitoring fees for oversight and reporting on compliance with a travel plan associated with the proposed development.
The local authority concerned had not demonstrated whether it would need to employ additional staff, did not indicate the likely time required to undertake the supervision work nor the extra costs it would impose on the council to deal with the administration and the supervision of the travel plan. The council had asked for £1000 per year but the inspector found this failed, for the reasons outlined above, to meet the test of being fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development and therefore contravened paragraph 204 of the NPPF.
This does not mean that monitoring fees will always be unreasonable but having regard to previous Court decisions, there is an expectation that the monitoring of compliance with obligations should form part of the day to day general overheads of the local authorities, funded by the tax payer. This means that in most cases there should be no individual demands for payments from developers promoting new schemes.
The exception is where the scale and complexity of the development project justifies the commitment of significant abnormally high levels of resource which can be demonstrated by the local authority. The previous case on monitoring fees suggested that a specific contribution should be justified only in exceptional circumstances, so that in the case of run of the mill developments, a demand for such fees would normally not be appropriate.
This decision is no more likely to change the approach adopted by local authorities than the previous decisions, but the approach of the Planning Inspectorate and the Courts to such demands is a matter which all developers should bear in mind when negotiating s106 obligations.
For further details please contact email Derek Ching or phone 0118 952 7246.
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