As part of the planning process, we may seek planning obligations to help manage the impacts of development.
Planning obligations (also known as Section 106 Agreements or ‘planning gain’) are obligations attached to the land that is the subject of a planning permission.
Our Guide to Developer Infrastructure Contributions was approved for usage in July 2021. It outlines the obligations we may seek, and our approach to negotiation, preparation, and completion of planning obligation agreements.
Our Guide to Developer Infrastructure Contributions provides developers with an overview of planning obligations we may seek as part of the planning process. It was approved for usage in July 2021 and replaces our previous ‘Planning Obligations Guidance – Toolkit for Hertfordshire’ (2008).
To help facilitate the legal process associated with planning obligation requests, we have created the Guide to Developer Infrastructure Contributions: Legal Pack.
We are responsible for ensuring the provision of a range of different council services and may seek a combination of financial contributions, land reservation or facilities from a proposed development. This is to help meet the demand new developments place on service provision.
Our Technical Appendices support our Guide to Developer Infrastructure Contributions by outlining how contributions may be sought from new development on a service-by-service basis.
We use our Hertfordshire Demographic Model to provide the baseline evidence required to support a request for planning obligations. Our model ensures we can meet the three tests necessary in respect of planning obligations.
The Model projects the number of people likely to be resident within a given development based on a range of demographic and development-specific data available to the county council. We also calibrate our model against observed demographic trends studied in our Pupil Yield Survey.
Our method notes explain how we do this:
Outputs from our Hertfordshire Demographic Model can be provided to applicants on request.
Planning performance agreements are voluntary agreements between an applicant and the county council. They can help to address the impact of new development proposals before a developer submits a planning application. They also help agree the timescales, actions and the resources needed to support the development of a planning application.
Certain development sites, given their size, location and/or complexity of issues, can be best dealt with through a planning performance agreement (PPA). PPAs set out a framework for the consideration of a site in our capacity as a key consultee on planning applications and local plans and a provider of key services to new developments.
Generally, PPAs should be a tripartite agreement between HCC, the LPA, and the developer or promoter. They should identify the objectives and rules of engagement that all the parties understand and issues that need to be resolved through the PPA engagement. By aligning with the LPA as part of this process, opportunities for transparency and efficiency are maximised.
PPAs do not guarantee a developer or promoter a particular outcome or resolution, but they do give a guaranteed resource, process, timetable, and standards for the consideration of the development site and can form part of our response to the Local Planning Authority in relation to the site. A project team will be available to assist the promoter or developer through the process. This in turn gives an early opportunity to ensure common ground on allocations or applications that could potentially impact county council services and our statutory responsibilities.
County council teams that might contribute to a PPA process include:
- transport, including highways, public transport, active transport, and rights of way
- early years support
- youth services
- waste disposal
- fire and rescue
- SuDS and Property services.
The Growth and Infrastructure team may provide co-ordination across teams where necessary.
Matters likely to be discussed within the PPA process include the need for and extent of on-site and off-site facilities and infrastructure to support county council services, the assessment of highways and sustainable transport matters, masterplanning infrastructure effectively into the development, and appropriate planning obligations and heads of terms. Those matters where agreement is reached will be documented and will be used to inform later stages of the planning process. An initial scoping meeting should be the first stage of this process, which allows the parties to set out their concerns and draw attention to those workstreams that will need to be resourced. PPAs are usually agreed for a six-month period and there is a charge attached to this service. HCC charges £100 per hour, plus VAT. Fees are expected to be paid prior to commencement of the PPA.
As part of the 6 months process, an executive meeting should be held monthly, to allow progress to be reported and documented. Invoices will be produced every 3 months; at which point the agreement will be continued or renewed if appropriate to do so. For example, the process may have taken longer than 6 months and require an extension or the council might consider insufficient progress is be being made and that there is little benefit to continuing. . The county council reserve the right to exit the agreement at this point. For confirmation, the county council would not collect payment for work that it has not undertaken.
Alongside invoices, the county council will prepare records of:
- Key discussion points between the county council and the developer
- Expected mitigation measures for the application
- Expected mechanisms to deliver the mitigation
- Any other matters agreed or not agreed.
These records will be shared with all parties to the PPA, and the findings will form part of the county council’s consultation response to the LPA if a planning application is subsequently submitted.
It should be noted that the documented outputs of these agreements will be key to ensuring that the engagement of HCC as a statutory consultee at the planning application stage is as efficient as possible. If mitigations have been highlighted at this early stage, it is expected that they are set out clearly in subsequent planning applications, or form part of supporting documentation, such as a “Comprehensive Transport Statement”.
In instances when resources are limited, the county council may have to decide which proposed developments it will enter into a PPA for. Local Plan allocations will always be prioritised, with emerging Local Plan allocations also supported where possible. The county council may not always be able to assist with unallocated windfall sites with seemingly little Local Plan policy support and may have to refuse requests to enter into a PPA for them.
HCC has a sample template PPA that outlines HCC’s preferred terms and conditions. We encourage early engagement with HCC and the LPA to ensure that terms are agreeable to all parties.
For further enquiries please contact the county council via firstname.lastname@example.org.