Any new development will effect the area in which it is built, such as increased traffic flow or economic regeneration for instance. In order to mitigate any negative impact of new developments, councils can enter into a Section 106 agreement (under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as amended), otherwise known as a ‘planning obligation’, with developers, requiring them to provide contributions to offset negative impacts caused by construction and development.
Examples of contributions range from the provision of affordable homes and new open space to funding of school places or employment training schemes. Developers can be asked to contribute towards the costs of providing community and social infrastructure which arises as a result of a new development taking place.
It should be noted that Section 106 agreements are not to be used as a way for the council to share in the profits from a development or as an inducement offered by a developer to gain planning permission.
A scan of recent council minutes and related documents makes for interesting reading on Ealing councils stance and track record with regard to Section 106 Monies for Southall; at the Southall Area Committee meeting of 27/11/07 Mr Twyman asked if Southall Councillors were consulted about Section 106 spend. The majority replied that they weren’t consulted. At the same meeting Mr Virdee stated that with reference to Section 106 funding, there should be improvements for Southall and that the Framework isn’t tangible or addressing the problems the area faces now.
Here is an extract from the minutes of the Southall Area Committee meeting of 23/02/08:
The Chairman [Councillor Dhindsa] introduced the report and explained that there is £91,200 of money from Section 106 agreements available and outlined the recommended proposals and projects in 2.2, including £40,000 for a Southall Car Park Study, £46,200 for Town Centre Improvements and £5,000 for CPZ and Parking Solutions on Montague Waye. The Chairman went on to express concern that he did no think councillors have been consulted on the £1,659,404 already spent or committed to existing projects.
Questions are also being asked whether £20,000 spent on the ‘Festival Lights’ is effective use of the money or simply a waste. Section 106 money being spent on the Borough Apprenticeship Scheme is also under scrutiny by residents.
It is high time our councillors [Gurcharan Singh (Con), Jagdish Gupta (Con), Jarnail Singh Jandu (Con), Jasbir Anand (Lab), Kamaljit S Dhindsa (Lab), Maninder Kaur Keith (Con), Manjit Singh (Con), Mohammad Aslam (Lab), Rajinder Mann (Lab), Ranjit Dheer (Lab), Swarn Singh Kang (Lab), Tej Ram Bagha (Lab), Tejinder Singh Dhami (Lab), Virendra Sharma (Lab), Zahida Abbas Noori (Lab) ] flexed their elected power to ensure Southall does not continue to be short-changed when it comes to section 106 funding.
Some residents have also expressed a concern that Section 106 monies are being misappropriated, such as the money for Business Incubator Units and the Apprenticeship Scheme. We would argue that it is imperative for the council to be transparent about section 106 monies raised and how it is spent. Click here for the latest summary of section 106 monies for Southall.
At a meeting on 13th November Cabinet asked council officers to suggest projects to the area committees which would be funded by available section 106 funds. Subsequently, a recent report titled “S106 – update and proposals for the allocation of S106 monies” sets out recommendations for the expenditure of the S106 monies and asks the area committee to comment on these recommendations prior to seeking Cabinet approval for expenditure.
We urge residents to ask their councilors what interest they are taking in this matter, and insist that section 106 money be spent with with care to ensure we can enjoy tangible improvements in our quality of life. We would further urge the council to consult with us the residents, rather than allowing officers to implement proposals dreamt up in isolation.