What are planning obligations and do I have to comply with them?

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When seeking to develop land or a property there may be the need for planning permission. This is in circumstances where the proposed development comes under building works or the material change of use of a property or land under section 57 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA). Should a proposed development satisfy section 57 then planning permission will be required. For example, building an extension on a property or changing the use of a property from a shop to a warehouse may qualify under section 57 and therefore will require planning permission. This planning permission must be obtained from the local council that can operate as the local planning authority (LPA).

What is a section 106 planning obligation?

When obtaining planning permission, the LPA can require planning obligations alongside granting planning permission. This means that the LPA can require the development to be carried out in a certain way and can be affected through a legal agreement. This legal agreement is granted through section 106 of the TCPA.  The reasoning behind this is that the resources in a council area may be strained or the proposed development could greatly affect the surrounding areas. A section 106 would assist the council managing the effect any development would have on the area.

These planning obligations are ordinarily based on the specific needs of a local community and the council. These obligations can vary under section 106, from requiring the land to be used only in a specific way to requiring payment of financial sums made to a LPA. For example, if there were a number of residential properties being developed at a similar time with multiple bedrooms, the council may require each of the developers to pay a fee to a local school with limited resources or spaces available. This would be to anticipate the need for more school spaces for children.

Essentially planning obligations can impose both positive and negative obligations on an individual. A positive planning obligation would require an individual to do something on their land, whilst a negative planning obligation would require an individual to not do something on their land. Planning obligations are placed on the land, so anyone who was to develop on the land using planning permission that required a planning obligation would have to comply. Whilst a section 106 agreement is a personal obligation, meaning only the person who entered the agreement is liable, most likely when selling the land, the seller would require the buyer to comply as well. If an individual failed to comply planning permission could be revoked and a sanction most likely will be issued depending on the level of noncompliance. Other legal action in court could be taken in response to noncompliance, such as an injunction preventing development all together or specific performance requiring an individual to do a specific act to rectify the wrong, 

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