3. Cambridge City Council approach to Planning Obligations and CIL

(1)3.1 Scope of contributions

3.1.1 To address the limitations imposed by the CIL Regulations, Section 106 planning obligations in the city will be scaled back and used to seek financial and non-financial obligations as set out below. The priority areas for Section 106 agreements as set out in this document are not exhaustive and the Council may wish to negotiate other forms of planning obligations depending on the individual circumstances of a site and proposal, where obligations are necessary, directly related to the development and fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development in question.

3.1.2 The Council expects new development to contribute to site related and other infrastructure needs through a combination of the following mechanisms:

  • Planning conditions (Site/development related)

  • Planning obligations to secure developer contributions or works in kind e.g. s106 Agreements (site/development related)

  • Cambridge Community Infrastructure Levy (Strategic, local and city wide requirements)

(1)3.2 Planning Decisions

3.2.1 All planning proposals should comply with Government guidance, the Local Plan (once adopted) assisted by this SPD (once adopted). Failure to do so may lead to a refusal for planning permission unless amendments can be made, planning conditions imposed or legal agreements introduced to minimise any potential negative impact of the development site.

3.2.2 In making planning decisions, the Council will need to reach an appropriate balance between a wide range of competing planning objectives and material considerations in order to control the development and use of land in the wider public interest. A balance will need to be struck between the relevant policies in the Local Plan and the specific circumstances of each case.

(2)3.3 Planning Conditions

3.3.1 Planning conditions are requirements made by the Council, in the granting of permission, to ensure that certain actions or elements related to the development proposal are carried out. They cannot be used to secure financial contributions. In Cambridge such conditions are likely to cover construction arrangements, external materials and landscaping, and measures to ensure that the development is carried out in accordance with the approved plan.

3.3.2 Paragraph 203 of the NPPF states that Local Planning Authorities should consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions. Paragraph 206 of the NPPF states that planning conditions should only be imposed where they are;

  • Necessary;

  • Relevant to planning;

  • Relevant to the development to be permitted;

  • Enforceable;

  • Precise; and,

  • Reasonable in all other respects.

The policy requirement is known as the six tests. The Council will consider whether an issue can be satisfactorily addressed through a condition, which meets the tests before negotiating a planning agreement.

3.3.3 Where there is a choice between imposing planning conditions and entering into a planning obligation to manage the impacts of a new development, the use of planning conditions is always preferable.

(1)3.4 Planning Obligations

3.4.1 Planning obligations are legally binding agreements entered into between a Local Authority and a developer under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. They are private agreements negotiated between planning authorities and persons with an interest in a piece of land. They are intended to make development acceptable that would otherwise be unacceptable. They provide the mechanism by which measures are secured to mitigate the impact of development on facilities and infrastructure that are geographically or functionally related to it.

3.4.2 Planning obligations do this through:

  • Prescribing the nature of a development (e.g. by requiring affordable housing2);

  • Securing a contribution from a developer to compensate or re-provide for loss or damage created by a development (e.g. through the transfer of land, requiring of a commuted payment to be made, requiring new habitats to be created etc.); and,

  • Mitigating a development’s impact on the locality (e.g. through the securing of environmental improvements and the provision of both on and off-site infrastructure and facilities to serve the development such as new roads and junction improvements which, without the proposed development taking place would not be required).

3.4.3 The outcome of the use of planning obligations should be that the proposed development is brought into compliance with Local Plan policies and that any development specific works are undertaken satisfactorily. Used effectively, planning obligations can significantly increase the quality of development.

(1)3.5 Section 278 Agreements

3.5.1 Section 278 (S.278) agreements under the Highways Act are legally binding agreements between the Local Highway Authority and the developer to ensure delivery of necessary highway works. Currently, the limitations on planning obligations in Regulation 123 do not apply in Section 278 Agreements. S.278 Agreements cannot be required for works that are intended to be funded through the CIL, with the exception of the Highways Agency where those restrictions do not apply.

3.5.2 S.278 Agreements are not the responsibility of the Council as Local Planning Authority. Further guidance on S.278 Agreements can be found on the Department of Transport website and from Cambridgeshire County Council as the Local Highway Authority.

(2)3.6 The Cambridge Community Infrastructure Levy

3.6.1 Funds raised through the CIL will be used to pay for a wide range of community infrastructure (strategic, citywide and local) that is required to support the needs of sustainable development. The proposed Draft CIL Regulation 123 (R.123) list that sets out the infrastructure that can be funded by CIL can be found at Appendix 2 for information. Section 106 agreements will not be used to secure infrastructure that has already been identified for delivery and investment from CIL funds through the draft R.123 list.

3.6.2 The R.123 list can evolve over time to reflect changing priorities for the provision of infrastructure. Should a type of infrastructure be removed from the R.123 list then the Council may seek to negotiate planning obligations for that type of infrastructure.

(6)3.7 Obligation types

3.7.1 The following sections set out the obligation types which may be required as part of any Section 106 Agreement. The matrix below offers a guide to what infrastructure types could be provided/funded by S.106 Planning Obligations and what could be funded by the Cambridge City Council CIL. This is a guide only, the list is not exhaustive.

Table 1: S.106/CIL Requirements

Planning obligations/ conditions3 CIL
Affordable Housing*
Strategic highway or transport
Site specific infrastructure
Education **
Open Space
Informal open space, provision for children and teenagers
Indoor sports facilities, Outdoor sports facilities, Allotments (excluding where a new development leads to the loss of any of these facilities and re-provision is required on-site or directly related to that site to make that development acceptable in planning terms)
Household waste and recycling facilities
Large scale waste and recycling facilities
Libraries and lifelong learning facilities**
Community facilities (excluding where a new development leads to the loss of a community facility and re-provision is required on-site or directly related to that site to make that development acceptable in planning terms)
Public Art
Citywide public art projects
On site through design considerations (by condition)
Public Realm
Strategic public realm projects
Site-specific public realm improvements/projects
Natural Environment
Strategic mitigation measures
On site mitigation

*Affordable Housing is not dealt with in this document. The Council is currently developing an Affordable Housing SPD which will be consulted upon and adopted alongside this document

** Education and Libraries and Lifelong Learning Facilities are not dealt with in this document as they are listed on the Council’s Draft CIL Regulation 123 List and so are not eligible for funding via planning obligations while they are on that list.

2 The Council is currently producing an Affordable Housing SPD which will be consulted on alongside the Planning Obligations Strategy SPD 3 Infrastructure and other items to be delivered through Section 106 Agreements, S.278 of the Highways Act or Planning Conditions
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