1. Mr Nigel Smith introduced the report which outlined the Council’s approach to developer contributions within the existing legal and planning policy framework. Mr Smith highlighted the several challenges in securing developer contributions and said the Planning White Paper (Aug 2020) would introduce proposals to replace the existing Section 106 Developer Contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy System (CIL) with a new ‘Infrastructure Levy’.
2. Mr N Smith, Ms Platts, and Ms Head responded to comments and questions from the committee, including the following:
(a) The Planning White Paper, and the Council’s response, would be circulated to Members following the meeting and discussed further at a future committee meeting.
(b) Ms Platts gave an update on the Kent Growth Infrastructure Framework (GIF) and said although the high-level picture of growth and cost included in the GIF remained a good guide, the housing need was constantly changing, and local plan reviews were constantly being undertaken. Officers were therefore working on developing a digitised version of the GIF which would be regularly updated with new data and would show a more up to date idea of the infrastructure gap. Ms Platts said East Kent would be focused on first before developing it further across Kent.
(c) Asked about the issue of developer viability and whether Section 106 Developer Contributions could be retrospectively claimed, Mr N Smith said there was a toolkit of mitigation measures which assessed the validity in numeric terms and where applicable overage payments were received.
(d) Asked whether the promise of health services as part of a development was followed up with the NHS Mr N Smith said the Council was not the statutory authority and communication took place between the District Local Planning Authorities and the relevant statutory service ie the NHS.
(e) Asked about special education needs Mr N Smith said they work closely with education colleagues and Area Education Officers and were producing a methodology for seeking special education needs for the future.
(f) Asked about the basic need funding gap for school expansion Ms Head said some forward funding had been put into the capital programme to reduce the gap but she was hopeful that any forward funding for basic need from the authority would be reduced.
(g) Asked whether Section 106 funding only applied to local authority schools and not academies Ms Head said she would check with the relevant service and would circulate a written answer to Members outside of the meeting.
(h) Asked whether the Council was under-resourced in chasing developers for overage payments Mr N Smith confirmed this was the case based on the process being very time consuming. He said there were two elements involved, one where an overage clause was in place and one where developers would come back after consent was granted saying they could no longer deliver the contributions. The latter would involve finding areas that could be compromised for example adjusting cashflow rather than service provision.
(i) Asked whether viability assessments could be made more robust, and developers made more accountable, Mr N Smith said a lot of time was spent looking at viability and due diligence was done on company checks and understanding the market.
(j) Asked why the figure for waste was as low as £190,000 since 2014, Mr N Smith said this figure was misleading as waste provision was provided off site, and there were cross boundary issues.
(k) Asked why the distribution of funding for youth and community looked low Mr N Smith said this was because the figure was comparative in relation to other figures for example education.
3. It was RESOLVED that the introductory paper be noted and that the committee agreed to receive future in-depth papers exploring challenges and opportunities for KCC regarding developer contributions, and KCC’s existing and evolving approach, and that the following be included in a report to the next meeting:
· The component parts of the Kent Growth Infrastructure Framework (GIF).
· The Planning White Paper, and the Council’s response.
· Resource requirements to maximise developer contributions and challenge viability claims.