Dominic Browne 13 August 2012

Trouble-shooters sent in to kick-start stalled developments

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced teams of trouble-shooters will be sent out to councils to help kick-start stalled housing projects.

The experts will help broker deals between councils and developers on Section 106 agreements - development contracts requiring firms to make a contribution to the community as part of their planning permission.

Local authorities have complained that developments have stalled as firms try to drop or re-negotiate their Section 106 commitments – which usually see firms offer financial contributions or provide housing, amenities and infrastructure to local communities.

Developers have argued many Section 106 deals were drawn up at the height of the housing boom and in the current climate have become economically unrealistic.

Mr Pickles said: ‘Tackling problems with stalled development is essential to getting builders back on moth-balled sites and building the homes we need. There is huge potential in sites to boost local economies and we simply cannot afford to have them lying idle because of earlier agreements that are no longer viable.’

The experts will provide technical expertise to unlock negotiations, work as go-betweens and offer access to a range of support services. Officials at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the trouble-shooters would begin work immediately offering free-of-charge advice to ‘an initial wave of councils’ before the scheme is rolled out across the country.

Ministers stressed that ‘any renegotiations of Section 106 agreements will not remove the developer’s obligation to provide critical infrastructure or other contributions to offset the effects of the development, and they should not result in land banking’, officials said.

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