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Automating the S106 process

by on June 5, 2009

A highly respected figure within the planning community has suggested to me that the S106 process would benefit from some standardisation and automation. 

What’s proposed is a system underpinned by a standard template that might be adopted by an LPA and customised locally to match local requirements. The software would enable the potential applicant to calculate their likely S106 obligation in advance of making an application.

What do you think, is it likely to be taken up?, would it be useful?

As we haven’t gone near this before I thought I’d seek your views.


  1. In the interests of efficiency and consistency I fully support ALL local Authorities being tasked to follow a standard format for S106 requirements. – With, of course, the necessary flexibility to be adjustable to local needs and contribution requirements.
    My own Local Authority only have ONE Officer who knows what they are seeking to achieve, and even she (good as she is) hasn’t set up cross links with local Housing Associations, the Rural Housing Enabler, and other essential parts of the package.
    As a professional agent ; my clients would be deighted to have a “quick calculator” to give them an idea of how much the L.A. will be lookiong for – and for what items – before they expend too much in costs in these precarious times.

  2. The work on standards of contribution tariffs has shown how difficult this issue is. The different geograhic and financial drivers of planning infrastructure, the north south divide, the areas that sit in HMR or have an MAA sub-regional identity developing, all skew contributions.
    The software standardisation is feasible across providers, the process for S106 is already set out with time scales and preferred monitoring methodology. this is already being implemented across LPA’s. And its supported politically when ‘you may need to give back any unspent monies’ hits home! and the Freedom of Information Request stick is powerful motivator.
    And theres the issue, we are all interpreting and developing a process seperately, and so we already have our own versions of ‘the truth’.
    And thats inevitable as the software system used will depend who our provider is. Can we afford the extra module or just a DIY system. Can we afford a S106 compliance monitoring officer, or can we use existing staff? Can we get the corporate centre to understand the income potential and and allow recruitment of an officer to be funded from future income that has an ‘administration cost’ element. invest to save and Value for Money is a factor of course.
    The templete and the time scales can be standardised. The use of them can be. But only if either the software providers or LPA’s want to, or if the Portal has a statutory role in this. And it hits Killian Pretty as if you standardise the process there are savings when you multiply the cost across 350+ LPA’s of seperate systems. The reality is its another possible sub-regional economy of scale that MAA bodies may tap into, as devolved national powers meet group local powers at the sub-regional level.

  3. A standard template for agents and developers would be a welcome development in the Section 106 process. By understanding their potential obligations prior to submission, applicants would have the opportunity of moving their application forward, thus making the process much quicker than at present. Decisions would be expedited leading to improved customer service. This in turn will reflect well on Councils and members alike. Cost benefits would arise not only from a reduction of the Section 106 officer’s time, but also admin time spent dealing with “chase up” enquiries. By standardising agreements nationally the potential for decision delays decreases. On occasions, developers have used the Approved Inspectors for their Building Control requirements, as a direct result of delays in planning decisions. I would fully support a review of the proposed software.

  4. Paul Green permalink

    I agree that there would be benefits to applicants, agents and LPAs. It would help achieve a transparent service and encourage LPAs to carefully review and keep up to date their requirements, which will be needed if the CIL progresses and is taken up. Service providers benefiting from contributions received may also take the process more seriously.
    Some external recognition for LPAs who adopt the use of a standard template may be appropriate.

  5. The Council for Mortgage lenders (CML) have just published their preferred template for a S106.

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