Section 106 and Section 278 as sources of funds for planning research
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
In this article, Dominic Hollen of Transport for London (TfL) and Mark Whitaker of Citi Logik look at two pieces of legislation that can prove effective means for local authorities to raise funds to gather data and create planning models to support proposed development.
For example, both can be used to gather mobile network data, and other data-sets, to demonstrate and mitigate the impact that major housing or infrastructure developments will have on the transport network.
Such models also benefit developers. Armed with a strong evidence base, they may be able to successfully argue for having a greater number of homes in a development if they can show that local infrastructure will not be adversely affected, or that they have identified effective methods to mitigate any impact.
A quick overview of the legislation
Section 106: Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act allows agreements between developers and planning authorities that make a planning application acceptable that would not otherwise be. For example, this can include the building of schools and hospitals or affordable housing, or the provision of green space within a development. A Section 106 agreement is given at the planning consent stage. It takes legal precedence over a Section 278 agreement, although a Section 106 agreement can stipulate the need for a Section 278 agreement.
Section 278: Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 permits developers to enter into a legal agreement with the local authority to make permanent alterations or improvements to a public highway as part of a planning approval. This could include access to a site, roundabouts, junctions and traffic calming measures. The developer is usually responsible for the costs involved. Section 278 agreements are therefore more directly related to the development, whereas Section 106 agreements can involve separate projects packaged with the development to make it acceptable to planners.
The opportunity for planning research funding
Dominic Hollen, Section 278 Programme and Delivery Manager at TfL, explained that for large developments, developers had to provide planning models and data to prove that the impact of their scheme on the surrounding area is acceptable.
Either the developer can provide the model or the local authority can pay a vendor to create the model. A local authority can also consolidate Section 278 monies for individual developments within a larger scheme into an overall model.
Dominic, Section 278 Programme and Delivery Manager at TfL, said: “Developers don’t mind paying for a model as it helps them get the maximum yield. If you have uncertainty about the impact of a development on a junction, say, then planners will tend to err on the side of caution. However, if you have robust data, then you can show that a development can accommodate additional homes without a detrimental impact on the junction.”
He added that developers had used such analyses to help with mitigating the adverse effects of their plans. “Where transport systems are affected by the developments, the data can help pinpoint improvements to mitigate such impacts. Sites have been developed that were previously considered not suited for development as a result,” he said.
Mark Whitaker, Non-executive Director at Citi Logik, added: “For any development, the local authority should have a base data model that the developer provides some information into. The local authority needs to have something it understands. ‘one version of the truth’, in a format that it understands.”
For any development, the local authority should have a base data model that the developer provides some information into. The local authority needs to have something it understands. ‘one version of the truth’, in a format that it understands.
Strategic models for complex developments
Mark also highlighted the importance of having a strategic model for a zone where there are multiple developments, such as the Vauxhall Cross/Nine Elms redevelopment scheme in London, which comprised 73 individual developments. “If you have a complex development area, there should be a strategic model that developers can compile their development into in a coordinated way. As they proceed, more detail should be added to the model. What often happens is that you have lots of independent planning permission applications that don’t take any account of how the area as a whole will be: planned, built and operated.”
TfL was consulted on the development and charged developers to use data created by its own team of data scientists.
Developers have a social responsibility – by understanding the impact, they can get the best outcome for society delivering developments that are environmentally friendly and that people can get to and from safely. A robust, coordinated model allows developers to articulate and demonstrate what they are trying to achieve.
Demonstrating the ROI from investing in mobile network data
Dominic’s ‘top tip’ for local authorities is to show developers the value of paying for data, for example, that it may release sites that people thought could not be developed as development opportunities. “If you are paying for a model, you need to see an outcome,” he said.
He also added that for developers, it is important to highlight the benefits in the design concept – that it will be greener, reduce journeys and not have an adverse effect on congestion or road safety. “With the help of a model, you don’t need to rely on bland statements – you can use data to make a robust planning argument,”.
“Developers have a social responsibility – by understanding the impact, they can get the best outcome for society delivering developments that are environmentally friendly and that people can get to and from safely. A robust, coordinated model allows developers to articulate and demonstrate what they are trying to achieve.”