Presented by Leigh Nicholson, Strategic Lead of Development Services, the report provided an overview of the mechanisms that were currently in place to secure and allocate developer contributions for infrastructure in Thurrock.
Councillor Anderson queried the process to determine who sat on the Council’s s106 Panel. Leigh Nicholson replied that the Panel was overseen by the Corporate Director of Place and membership was nominated by the Place directorate team.
Commenting on the five s106 contributions that funded certain projects, Councillor Piccolo said that there were a number of contributions coming in but most were not as high as they could be. He continued on to say if the 5 s106 contributions were to be pulled as mentioned, to achieve a deficit in particular projects and there was not enough applications to gain s106 funding; what would happen with the underfund. Councillor Piccolo queried whether the underfund would be used to fund another similar project. Leigh Nicholson explained that s106 contributions did not necessarily have to fund one project in one particular area; instead it could be used to fund several small scale projects within that particular area. Some of the s106 contributions did not have to be requested if the project was to be incorporated into a larger overall scheme such as the Local Plan.
Although pleased to hear of the s106 process, Councillor Pothecary expressed concern on how residents could be involved in the process. She went on to say that residents would not necessarily understand planning systems or that they could be involved. Referring to the Local Plan, Leigh Nicholson answered that residents were consulted through the Your Place, Your Voice events that were currently being rolled out to the local communities as part of the Issues and Options Stage 2 Consultation. This encouraged residents to give their opinions and made them aware of the potential developments within the borough. The Council website also had an infrastructure list although this needed more promotion.
Councillor Pothecary sought clarification on whether there was a specific development of ideas from developers within the Local Plan and how these would work. She also queried how residents could be involved in these ideas. Leigh Nicholson confirmed that the Local Plan included developers’ ideas and the Local Plan actively encouraged involvement from the local community. The Local Plan also looked at the timeline of developments and led these to where they needed to be.
Referring to appendix 1, the Chair noted that community groups and residents were able to nominate projects in the s106 process and he queried how the Chairs of community groups could engage in this as most were not aware of this. Aside from the events stemming from the Local Plan, the Chair asked how the Local Authority could advise Chairs of community groups to partake in the s106 process. Leigh Nicholson would check with Place directorate and feedback to the Committee.
Councillor Piccolo noted that s106 contributions provided a proportion to the impact of a development and applications were applied with reduced contributions resulting in a deficit. Councillor Piccolo sought clarification on how the deficit could be obtained through the planning system. Leigh Nicholson explained that a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was introduced when a funding gap was identified. Using CIL too early would result in lower funding so the Infrastructure Requirement List (IRL) was introduced first.
That the Planning, Transport, Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted and commented on the report.