Section 106 is the mechanism whereby developers have to pay a sum of money and/or provide affordable housing in return for planning permission to build in the city.
The idea is that developers have to 'mitigate' the impact of their schemes, so they have to contribute towards things like parks, roads, extra school places et al that the new residents will be squeezing.
Developers also have to provide a percentage of affordable houses within their schemes (of over 25 properties) so that these developments don't just become ghettos for the rich. Or, if they can't bear the thought of that, they can pay a 'commuted sum' for off-site affordable housing so that the peasants can live elsewhere.
The Salford Star has estimated that the city has lost over £50million in these payments, plus well over one thousand affordable houses, from developers avoiding Section 106 'contributions' – either by producing 'viability assessments' that show their profits won't be big enough (Government NPPF policy) or via Salford Council's own planning policies under which, in certain areas of the city, affordable housing and contributions don't have to be made.
A new Section 106 End of Year Report for 2017-18 reveals that the city is still massively losing out on these payments and affordable houses. The Executive Summary of the twenty page report doesn't mention it, but buried beneath pages of photos of kids playgrounds and foothpaths financed by Section 106 payments, there is a section on affordable housing.
The report states quite clearly that "During 2017/18, 16 affordable homes were delivered under Section 106. These units were provided on the Burgess Farm and Birch Road developments in Walkden South..."
16 affordable houses? Well, it's better than the previous year's 15 houses* but a shocking return on the thousands of market sale houses and apartments that have pockmarked the city...
The report also reveals that a mere £135,000 was paid by developers in 2017-18 as a "commuted sum for the delivery of off-site affordable housing".
Having given these figures, the report adds, confusingly, that "The total number of affordable homes now delivered under Section 106 in the city is 120", but doesn't give any dates for the period this covers.
The biggest number of affordable houses shown in the report's table listing the schemes is 49 at Nightingale Gardens in Swinton. These were being offered back in 2013. Surely the figure of 120 affordable houses under Section 106 can't mean, like, ever...with just 31 affordable houses 'delivered' over the last two years this would be about right!
The report proudly adds that "A further 26 units are expected on commenced sites that have planning permission". Over 4,000 people are currently on Salford Council's thinned down housing waiting list.
It's the same story for affordable housing 'commuted sums'. The report states that "To date the council has received circa £2.2m in affordable housing commuted sums" but, again, no dates are provided. Could this be, like, ever? Surely not!
The Salford Star believes that the City Mayor, Paul Dennett, should be clarifying this. Unfortunately he doesn't talk to the Salford Star.
The report goes on to state that "Based upon the position as at March 2018, a further £1.8m is anticipated from sites that have commenced on site with affordable housing obligations"...
Meanwhile, buried in Annex 1 of the report, is a list of Section 106 agreements signed in 2017-18. It shows just three affordable houses actually confirmed, on the site of the old Walkden College 6th form complex. The other affordable houses are dependent on future 'viability assessments', clawbacks' and whether other infrastructure schemes would take precedent.
In terms of Section 106 payments for things other than affordable housing, like public realm, transport, parks etc, the Council signed agreements during 2017-18 worth £3.3million, again dependent upon future 'viability assessments' and clawbacks'. Even so, what this figure doesn't reveal is how much developers should have actually been paying, as documented in the Salford Star**
The report also has a little breakdown for the last quarter, January to March 2018, during which the Council invoiced or received a paltry £137,226 in Section 106 contributions...
* See previous Salford Star article – Just 15 Section 106 Houses Built in 2016-17 – click here
** See previous Salford Star article – Over £1million Avoided By Broughton Developer – click here
To read the full Section 106 Report – click here