Saturday 20 August 2011

Planning Obligations (Section 106 Agreements)...


Where a planning obligation is required in connection with a proposed development in order to mitigate the impact it will have on the local authorities infrastructure, planning permission will not be issued until the obligation has been satisfactorily completed.

If a planning obligation is not completed within the target time for making a decision on the planning application, planning permission may be refused on the grounds that the impact of the proposal will not be mitigated and it is therefore contrary to development plan policies.

The target date for making a decision on a planning application will be set out in the acknowledgement letter sent to the applicant/agent following registration of the application.

There are two main types of planning obligation that can be used, depending on the complexity of the issues the obligation is required to cover:


A unilateral undertaking is a simple form of planning obligation which is relatively quick to complete. It involves the applicant completing a legal undertaking to pay the required financial contribution to the District Council at a specified time.

Unilateral undertakings can be used where
1.    the number and type of dwellings, and number of bedrooms proposed are clearly set out in the planning application description (for example, 3 x two-bedroom dwellings and 6 x one-bedroom flats) or shown on the accompanying plans, and
2.    where the planning obligation only needs to cover financial contributions towards public open space, community facilities or education facilities.

Such undertakings are usually submitted at the same time as the planning application and are already signed and dated.


Where a planning obligation needs to cover a more complex range of issues, or in the case of an outline application where the type of dwelling and number of bedrooms proposed is not stated, applicants will be required to complete a type of planning obligation commonly known as a S106 Agreement. This type of legal agreement will need to be entered into by the applicant, anyone else who has an interest in the land forming the application site, the District Council, and in some cases the County Council. It is therefore a more complex type of planning obligation than a unilateral undertaking, and normally takes longer and is more expensive to complete.


A planning obligation is a legally binding agreement secured under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended. These agreements are regularly referred to as Planning Agreements or Section 106 Agreements.

They require a developer or landowner to undertake certain works, or to contribute financially towards the provision of measures to mitigate the negative impacts of their development.

Where planning obligations are required, a planning agreement, drafted by the Council’s legal services team and entered into by the Council and the developer or landowner will usually be appropriate. However there will be occasions where the use of Unilateral Undertakings can assist in ensuring that planning permissions are granted speedily, which benefits both the applicant and the Council.

A Unilateral Undertaking is a simplified version of a Planning Agreement and is only entered into by the landowner. It will only be appropriate in certain circumstances.

The Council may consider that it will normally be appropriate for a Unilateral Undertaking to be used only if all the following conditions are met:

·         The person entering into the Undertaking is the owner of the land (not merely a purchaser with a conditional contract) and there are no leases or tenancies. If the land is subject to a mortgage/legal charge, mortgage and mortgagee details should be included.
·         The Planning Obligation will consist solely of the payment of financial contributions, of one or more of the types described in the template, to be paid on commencement of development or the date hereof (i.e. the date the agreement is signed).
·         The Undertaking includes an obligation to pay the Council's costs in assessing the adequacy of the Undertaking (which will include checking the title to the land) and registering the Undertaking as a local land charge. This charge is subject to review and actual costs will be assessed by reference to the rates operating on the date of completion of the agreement. If planning permission is not granted, then the local land charge will be removed.

If any of the above conditions are not met, the Council will normally consider the matter unsuitable for a Unilateral Undertaking and will expect the Applicant to enter into a conventional negotiated Section 106 Agreement, which will be drafted by the Council’s Legal Services under their normal terms of business.

If the Applicant considers that the above conditions are met and the Development Control Officer dealing with the application has confirmed that a Unilateral Undertaking would be appropriate, then the Applicant should complete a draft Unilateral Undertaking and submit this to the Development Control Section with the related planning application, together with a plan of the application land and proof of title to the land.

Upon receipt of the draft undertaking, the Council will assess it and confirm whether it is acceptable or whether amendments are required. They will also check the proof of title submitted. If any amendments are required, the draft will be returned to the applicant.

A Unilateral Undertaking must be completed and signed before the application can be registered and considered. Applicants are therefore strongly advised to allow sufficient time for their draft undertaking to be assessed and (if need be) amended.

A Unilateral Undertaking is a legally binding document with significant financial consequences. If you are in any doubt about the meaning and effect of the undertaking you should seek independent legal advice.

Councils are committed to offering pre-application advice. Where it is intended to submit a Unilateral Undertaking, you are advised to include this element in any pre-application discussions, so that the details and level of contribution can be agreed prior to the submission of a planning application.

How much you pay for play, recreation or open spaces depends on whether you're:
·         contributing towards enhancements to existing facilities; or
·         providing new facilities on site.

Indicative costs are set out in the table below, but you should check with your local authority for a more definite figure.

Size of dwelling                                                               Lay-out contribution per dwelling
One single bed flat or sheltered unit                                    £2,558.78
One flat or house with between two or four bedrooms          £3,698.81
One house with five or more bedrooms                                £4,236.73

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