Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Planning process

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I suspect it is a little known aspect of planning process, but most planning applications of any size carry an obligation to fund public services in the local area - these are known as Section 106 allocations.

These are perfectly reasonable expectations - new houses mean increased use of health & GP services, Police, Fire & education services, waste collection & disposal, highway improvements and more choice based services such as leisure centres.

Occasionally the local authority will use S106 monies to build up funding for more ambitious schemes which may have a wider audience / benefit that just the Parish or Town in which the planning application is located.

All perfectly reasonable - increased housing = increased use of public services & developer contributions is the obvious & most equitable way of funding those services.

Personally I would like to see a more transparent process of how those allocations are made & as an elected member of a local authority which has planning powers I would like to be consulted in a more formal way around how allocations are made within my electoral area, however the system itself is a tried & tested process which largely works.

A day or two ago an opposition colleague in Central Bedfordshire sent out a very mischievous email to every Parish Council in the area suggesting that S106 allocations were somehow being used for wholly different purposes.

Two quoted examples were S106 allocations in the Parishes of Caddington & Kensworth for leisure centre funding. The closest leisure centre to both Parishes is Dunstable & it was not exactly surprising to see modest S106 allocations going to Dunstable Leisure Centre.

Aside from the political mischief being caused I am irate at the amount of time I and many colleagues will now need to spend correcting a very misleading impression given to the 6 Parishes within the Ward,

I have no issue with a proper debate on how the allocations are decided & who is consulted during a planning application, but scaremongering probably achieves the opposite of the intended effect.

Of course the story is then picked up by even less informed soles, who propogate the 'scandal' as fact.

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