Labour will fight easing of section 106 obligations
Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey has confirmed Labour’s commitment to fight any relaxation of planning obligations.
Speaking to Inside Housing at the Labour Party conference, Mr Dromey said that plans to allow developers to call in the Planning Inspectorate to overturn section 106 commitments was an attack on social housing.
‘The direction of travel of government is to rob councils and communities of their ability to make maximum use of section 106 for social and affordable house building,’ he said.
‘I don’t accept that section 106 is the problem that [communities secretary] Eric Pickles cracks it up to be.
‘I have had discussions with builders and developers around section 106 and they say it is not the issue.’
As part of last month’s housing stimulus package, the government said developers should be allowed to renegotiate section 106 agreements when they made schemes unviable.
Mr Dromey said that the proposal to bring in the Planning Inspectorate to decide whether schemes should be renegotiated flew in the face of the government’s localism agenda.
‘If a development is stalled, then a sensible discussion around varying the requirement to build social and affordable housing is legitimate,’ he said. ‘But if localism means anything then it should just be a local discussion.
‘Councils, and not just Labour councils, do not want the Planning Inspectorate to make local decisions.’
Tomorrow, the conference will vote on a housing motion that outlines opposition to the relaxation of section 106.
The motion states that ‘letting developers drop section 106 agreements that provide affordable social housing and community infrastructure is wrong’.
The motion also calls on the party to drop the government’s affordable rent policy, which allows social landlords to charge up to 80 per cent of market rent, if it is elected at the next general election in 2015.