The petition of residents of the constituency of Wycombe
Declares that planning permission for Pine Trees was granted by the local authority (now Buckinghamshire Council) on the condition that the developer, Taylor Wimpey, paid a commuted sum to support the upkeep of the open spaces and play areas known as Bobcat Park, allowing for the local authority to adopt the park; notes that the local authority failed to include any mention of said commuted sum in the Section 106 planning conditions for the development; notes that the developer sold, and continued to sell, homes at Pine Trees on the basis that Bobcat Park would be adopted by the local authority and that residents would not need to pay anything towards upkeep of the park; notes that in connection with a separate planning condition, the developer has paid to the local authority more than £2 million for the creation of a bus link scheme which has since been abandoned, leaving funds available to support adoption of the park; and notes that in the absence of a commuted sum, the local authority has indicated its opposition to adopting the park, leaving the costs of maintenance to be borne by the residents at the development, conflicting directly with what they had been told.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to legislate to ensure in future if planning is granted on particular conditions, and these are not carried through by a council, then that council is responsible for remediation and to ask the relevant Member to seek to broker a solution.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr Steve Baker , Official Report, 23 November 2021; Vol. 704, c. 322.]
Observations from the Minister for Housing (Christopher Pincher):
Due to the role of the Secretary of State in the planning system, the Government are unable to comment on specific development proposals.
Contributions from developers play an important role in delivering the infrastructure that new homes require, such as open space facilities. Local authorities can obtain these contributions by charging a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) on new development, and by negotiating section 106 planning obligations with a developer. However, section 106 agreements can be varied, resulting in lack of clarity for communities over the infrastructure that will be delivered.
The Government strongly believe that management charges should be transparent and that there should be a clear challenge or redress if things go wrong. Where costs do fall directly on homeowners, it should be clear to potential purchasers what the arrangements are for the maintenance of roads and upkeep of open space, public or otherwise, with a clear route to challenge or redress if things go wrong.
The Government’s White Paper, ‘Planning for the Future’ proposes that the new ‘Infrastructure Levy’ will replace section 106 planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy. The proposed Levy will be simpler, more transparent and more consistent.
The consultation on ‘Planning for the Future’ closed on 29 October. We are analysing the consultation feedback thoroughly and holding meetings with industry and local authority representatives to understand the impacts of our proposals. We will respond formally in due course.