19. What plans he has for the future of rules governing the use of section 106 moneys collected by local authorities. (50358)
The Government are committed to delivering a simplified, locally driven planning system that supports sustainable economic growth and development. A key part of that is the framework that ensures that local communities benefit directly from development. We intend to retain section 106 agreements in a scaled-back form, alongside the community infrastructure levy, to fund local infrastructure and community facilities.
Given that commitment to empowering local people, is there any intention to provide greater flexibility to parish councils, such as Sherfield English parish council, which desperately want to use accumulated section 106 moneys, but cannot do so under current rules?
The answer is yes. The Localism Bill centres on giving greater discretion to local communities to use the funds that come with developments so that they can invest in infrastructure locally. We know that one of the sources of opposition to development is people’s reasonable fear that they will not get the infrastructure that the development requires. We are changing that through the Bill.
A recent scrutiny report at Wiltshire council revealed that it had failed to claim £16 million of section 106 agreements to date. Given the pressures on councils to spend on and invest in the infrastructure in their communities, does the Minister agree that now would be a good time to make such claims?