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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

'Projects axed as planning deals blocked'

Headline in the Birmingham Post this morning, with an editorial comment that suggests Section 106 Agreements are a 'burden' on developers - an editorial aimed at taking the sting out of the front-page story which tells of developers, in the words of Clive Dutton, Birmingham's director of regeneration and planning "who were given planning permission through a 106 agreement but are coming back to renegotiate these agreements":
Birmingham Post 24/12/08 - Jane Tyler, Business Staff: Leisure, transport and community projects worth millions of pounds could be scrapped because recession-hit developers are refusing to hand over the money they promised Birmingham City Council in return for being granted planning permission. At least £13million is at risk of being withheld as property developers begin to break Section 106 agreements – legally binding contracts requiring builders to pay cash sums to fund projects which are of benefit to the community.
My letter to post.letters@birminghampost.net - published 30 December 08
Dear Editor THREATENED RENEGOTIATION OF S106As In 2004, having fought for ten years to prevent losing more green space in Handsworth, campaigners were forced to accept the decision - by a very small margin of votes among councillors on Birmingham's Planning Committee - to negotiate a Section 106 Agreement to permit new homes to be built on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments (VJA) - a private site neglected by its owners'. Can it be that having taken a profit from the houses they and their predecessors, Westbury Homes, have built and sold on the Victoria Jubilee Allotments, the current developer, Charles Church, is seeking permission to renegotiate the agreement made with the Council and - implicitly - with a most active community? (Jane Tyler, Birmingham Post 24 December 2008). We, with many others, anticipating trends now acknowledged by Government, (e.g. Baroness Kay Andrews' Introduction to 'Growing in the Community' 2nd ed.2008) argued convincingly that there was enough demand for allotments for the whole VJA site to be afforded the protection allotments are allowed by statute and Planning Guidance (PPG17). The city planner's lower estimate of that demand was used to sway the Committee to approve the application to build houses on the allotments. In May 2007 we were assured by Alan Orr, Perry Barr Community Planning Officer, that new houses had been sold in sufficient numbers to trigger the next stage of the S106A - three playing fields, including a cricket pitch, and eighty allotments. How brash if now, having taken their profit, Charles Church claim themselves 'burdened' by the terms on which they made it. With best wishes for New Year 2009. Yours etc,. Simon Baddeley, Handsworth Allotments Information Group

2 comments:

  1. Simon, I hope you would put it in stronger terms than 'vexes', as there is something broader at stake that will require concerted effort across the city to address.

    It's not just Handsworth allotments, nor just s106 money, but an assortment of things relating to greenspace and related services. We shall see this more clearly in the new year, but I believe we need to be gathering forces to combat cuts to local provision.

    If that comes to pass, your input and campaigning skills around these issues will be needed.

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  2. Thanks David. I'll omit 'vexes' and even stronger language for when we're losing. For the moment I think there are enough people of goodwill and influence around, who by combining, can give this cause as good a run as any.

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