Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document

Ended on the 25 March 2020


1.1 Overview

1.1.1 North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) is committed to ensuring that the necessary infrastructure, services and facilities are provided to support growth and development in the District.

1.1.2 This Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) sets out detailed guidance on the type and scale of developer contributions that will be sought to support new development in our area.

1.1.3 The aim of the document is to assist Council Officers, applicants, agents and Members through the planning application process in a fair, transparent and consistent way.

1.2 Background and status of the SPD

1.2.1 This document has been produced by North Hertfordshire District Council to provide further information on requirements set out in our next Local Plan. In particular, it expands upon proposed Local Plan Policy SP7: Infrastructure Requirements and Developer Contributions.

1.2.2 This draft SPD will be widely consulted upon, including with developers and members of the public, before a final document is produced.

1.2.3 This SPD will be a material consideration when determining planning applications in the District and will be used when securing obligations, whether by Section 106 agreements or unilateral undertakings.

1.3 Legislative context

1.3.1 SPDs are documents which add further details to policies in a Local Plan. They can be used to provide further guidance on particular issues, but they cannot introduce new policies. SPDs are a form of Local Development Document produced under the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (as amended). Government regulations set out the requirements for producing SPDs[1].

1.3.2 Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows local planning authorities to enter into agreements with persons with an interest in land. These agreements can be used (but are not necessarily limited) to:

  • Restrict the development or use of the land;
  • Require (parts of) the land to be used in a specific way;
  • Require the payment of a sum to the local authority.

1.3.3 The Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (as amended) set out the requirements that planning obligations must fulfil. Planning obligations can only be used:

  • To make the development acceptable in planning terms
  • Where they are directly related to the development; and
  • Are fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development.

1.3.4 Paragraph: 4, reference ID: 23b-004-20190901 of the planning practice guidance on planning obligations makes clear that it is not appropriate for plan-makers to set out new formulaic approaches to planning obligations in supplementary planning documents or supporting evidence base documents, as these would not be subject to examination. Whether or not an obligation meets this test will be assessed on a case by case basis considering the project, harm or stress added to such facilities (in the round) from the development proposed, and considering the residual S106 figures arising from the viability evidence supporting the Local Plan[2].

1.3.5 The pooling limits previously imposed by regulation 123 of the above Regulations have been omitted by way of regulation 11 of The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2019. This omission now allows more than five obligations to fund a single infrastructure project.

1.4 National policy context

1.4.1 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that Local Plans should set out the contributions expected from development. This should include the levels and types of affordable housing and other infrastructure requirements. These policies should not undermine the deliverability of the plan[3].

1.4.2 Local Planning authorities should consider whether otherwise unacceptable development can be made acceptable through the use of conditions or planning obligations. Planning obligations should only be used where it is not possible to address unacceptable impacts through a planning condition[4].

1.4.3 Where up-to-date policies set out the contributions expected from development, planning applications that comply with them should be assumed to be viable[5].

1.4.4 The Government has already introduced changes by reforming the approach to viability, which is set out in the revised National Planning Policy Framework and in associated national planning practice guidance. This new approach ensures that local plans clearly set out the contributions that developers are expected to make towards infrastructure and affordable housing; introduces a standard approach to establishing land value; and increases transparency and accountability through the publication of viability assessments and through improvements to the monitoring and reporting of Section 106 planning obligations[6].

1.5 The Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plans

1.5.1 The North Hertfordshire District Council Local Plan was submitted to the Secretary of State in June 2017 for Examination in Public. The initial hearing sessions for the Examination concluded in March 2018. Proposed Main Modifications were issued in November 2018 and consulted upon between January and April 2019. Following review and consideration of representations made in response to the draft Main Modifications, the Inspector wrote to the Council setting out the next stages of the examination in July 2019 with additional questions in a further letter sent by the Inspector in August 2019. The Council have responded to both letters, in November and December 2019. Further hearings are expected following the Inspectors response in regards to matters, issues and questions for additional hearing sessions expected in late January.

1.5.2 Emerging policy SP7 of the Local Plan provides the main policy 'hook' for this SPD while other Local Plan policies have further requirements for developer contributions. Policy SP7 (as proposed to be modified) is shown on the following page. This document has been structured to broadly follow the chapters and topics set out in the emerging Plan.

1.5.3 Developer contributions may also be required by policies set out in Neighbourhood Plans and applicants should have regard to such policies when formulating development proposals.

1.5.4 Should the new Local Plan not proceed for any reason or be subject to substantial delay, the Council will determine the most appropriate way forward. In particular, it will give consideration as to whether it is practicable for this SPD to be adopted in support of Saved Policy 51: Development Effects and Planning Gain of the District Plan No.2 with Alterations as an interim or transitional measure.

1.6 Developer contributions, planning obligations, S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

1.6.1 Developer contributions are normally secured through planning obligation agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

1.6.2 The terms 'developer contributions', 'planning obligations' and 'Section 106' (s106) are used interchangeably but generally refer to the same things. Agreements may be used to ensure that the impacts arising as a result of a new development can be addressed. They are also a valuable way of ensuring that a development complies with planning policies contained in the Local Plan and any Neighbourhood Plans.

1.6.3 Planning obligations may be set out in a Section 106 agreement between the Council and the developer (and any other relevant parties) or in a unilateral undertaking offered by the developer. Section 106 agreements and unilateral undertakings are individual, scheme-specific, legal documents. Such agreements or undertakings can contain a number of planning covenants which can relate to both financial and non-financial obligations.

1.6.4 This document and the guidance contained within will remain a material planning consideration in the assessment of future development management applications if a CIL is subsequently adopted. Whilst some elements of this document may be superseded by any future CIL, this guidance will remain relevant and some form of legal agreement will still be required to secure affordable housing provision, on-site infrastructure delivery and/or any site specific obligation which falls outside of any future adopted CIL. In the case of adoption of CIL in the future, legal agreements securing obligations will work alongside CIL for the above reasons in a hybrid fashion.

1.7 Sustainability Appraisal

1.7.1 This draft SPD has been reviewed against the European Directive relating to Strategic Environmental Assessments 2001/42/EC. This scoping exercise has shown that this draft SPD does not require an SEA to be undertaken. To the extent that applies, this document shall be reviewed against any replacement legislation related to Brexit arrangements[7].

1.8 Cross-boundary issues

1.8.1 There may be instances where the impacts of development that lie within other local authority areas may affect areas within the District. When notified of developments that could potentially have an effect on the delivery of services by North Hertfordshire District Council, the authority will discuss these with the relevant local authority and seek obligations from the developer accordingly. In these cases, the Council would expect a clause enabling money to be transferred for spending in the District if necessary.

1.8.2 The Council will make reciprocal arrangements to those set out above should a development falling within the North Hertfordshire administrative boundary have cross-boundary impacts affecting another authority area(s).

1.8.3 The above approaches will also apply, having regard to the general principles in this document, in relation to any Nationally Significant Infrastructure projects (NSIPs) in or affecting the District.

1.9 Other providers that may seek S106 contributions

1.9.1 A range of infrastructure providers may seek contributions from new development. This includes, but is not limited to, Hertfordshire County Council, the NHS and local Parish, Town or Community Councils. These are indicated under the relevant topic areas below.

1.9.2 These providers may also be signatories to the s106 agreement. The decision to make any other provider a signatory will be based on the level of financial contribution sought by the other provider. For clarity, any financial contribution to be made to a provider other than North Hertfordshire District Council in excess of £150,000 will usually require the other provider to be a signatory to the Section 106 agreement.

1.10 Infrastructure Planning and Funding

1.10.1 An Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP)[8] is part of the Local Plan evidence base and sets out the requirements for infrastructure over the plan period. The IDP will need to be updated over time to take into account the infrastructure needs of the District, including any updating of costs that is required.

1.10.2 The IDP examines the supply and demand for infrastructure based on forecasts of population growth.

1.10.3 Individual Council departments have priority projects that are set out in relevant strategies and action plans. These are identified under specific topics elsewhere in this SPD. Applicants should also have regard to other plans and strategies prepared by other service providers.

1.10.4 In addition to updating the IDP, Annual Infrastructure Funding Statements are a requirement of Regulation 121A of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 as amended by Regulation 9 of the Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2019.

1.11 Strategic sites

1.11.1 The Local Plan identifies six Strategic Sites, for which there are detailed policies. For these sites a masterplan should be provided for the whole allocation to ensure that infrastructure provision fully reflects the demands arising from development. The Strategic Sites are:

  • Policy SP14: Site BA1 – North of Baldock
  • Policy SP15: Site LG1 – North of Letchworth Garden City
  • Policy SP16: Site NS1 - North of Stevenage
  • Policy SP17: Site HT1 - Highover Farm, Hitchin
  • Policy SP18: Site GA2 - Land off Mendip Way, Great Ashby
  • Policy SP19: Sites EL1, EL2 & EL3 East of Luton

1.11.2 The Strategic Sites will need to address any specific contribution requirements set out in their individual policies, in the Plan as a whole and in this document. Developers should be aware that obligations may be required to secure details outside of the scope of this document, such as securing a masterplan, final location and use splits of local neighbourhood centres, or management plans for the maintenance and sustainability of any new neighbourhood centres required as a result of the development.

1.12 Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs)

1.12.1 Since the production of the Local Plan, work to expand Luton Airport has commenced. The District Council has been involved in ongoing engagement regarding this project. The project has been registered with the National Infrastructure Commission and a Development Consent Order is anticipated in 2020. The expansion of Luton Airport and any further NSIPs will be dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate, as set out in the Planning Act 2008.

1.12.2 The Council may seek appropriate contributions from any part of any NSIP in or affecting the District in line with the advice and principles in this document.

[1] The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012

[2] DSP – North Hertfordshire District Council – Local Plan Viability Assessment – Update – Final Report (August 2016); DSP – North Hertfordshire District Council – Local Plan Examination Addendum (Viability) (Proposed policies HS4 and HS5) (January 2018)

[3] NPPF Paragraph 34

[4] NPPF Paragraph 54

[5] NPPF Paragraph 57

[8] Infrastructure Delivery Plan to support the North Hertfordshire Local Plan 2011-2031 (2016) -

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