UDC recently issued a press release to defend their record of collecting monies from developers to pay for required infrastructure. Analysis of their press release hows that UDC has only really collected money for Essex County Council. In Saffron Walden alone they have failed to collect more than £3m in developer contributions for community infrastructure that they should have. The UDC press release and R4U analysis of it may be downloaded here.
New housing puts a burden on existing infrastructure. Because of this, planning law allows local authorities, such as Uttlesford District Council, to require developers to make contributions toward necessary infrastructure. The government provides guidelines on what should be collected. To collect the funds UDC forms legal ‘Section 106 agreements’ with each developer as part of giving approval for planning. Under these agreements UDC collects money for community infrastructure. They also collect money on behalf of Essex County Council for roads, buses, education and social care.
Cllr Gadd continued “So far UDC has failed to collect £3.4m in community facilities for the more than 800 houses they have already given planning permission for in Saffron Walden. To put that into perspective, they have given away the equivalent of £700 on every council tax bill in Saffron. Or to look at it another way, UDC’s 2014 study said that for 800 new homes they should have required developers to provide the community with an area the size of The Common filled with sports pitches, play areas, natural open space and community facilities. They clearly haven’t.”
R4U’s Paul Gadd concluded “By UDC’s own figures they are giving away 90% of what they should be collecting for community infrastructure. The result is that developers are making more profit and residents are losing out. No wonder Uttlesford is the 4th fastest growing district in the UK – developers all want to build here because the district council administration is deliberately allowing them to build without providing proper benefits. UDC could easily require proper contributions, but developers have repeatedly said that UDC doesn’t even ask for community benefits. UDC’s failure is appalling. It is time for a change in the district council administration.”