Repeal Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act

If you assume that a property developer wheeling a barrow load of cash down to the town hall to buy a planning consent would end up in jail, think again.  It is perfectly legal under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

To “legalised bribery” add blackmail and extortion with council planners extracting huge sums of money from developers. Again, there is nothing unlawful about that.

This dark little corner of planning law also allows cosy deals between local authorities and developers which may not always be in the public interest.

The 1990 Act states:

106 Agreements regulating development or use of land

 (1) A local planning authority may enter into an agreement with any person interested in land in their area for the purpose of restricting or regulating the development or use of the land, either permanently or during such period as may be prescribed by the agreement.

(2) Any such agreement may contain such incidental and consequential provisions (including financial ones) as appear to the local planning authority to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the agreement.

Examine any planning consent for a major construction project and you will invariably find that a Section 106 legal agreement has been hatched up between the council planners and the developer. In most cases, the developer pays money – sometimes huge amounts – for his planning consent. Ostensibly, the contribution is to offset the impact of the development on local amenities such as roads and schools.

The problem is that it is up to the developer and the planners to reach a deal and tie it up in a legal agreement. This is unsafe and open to abuse.

Developers can buy influence over ill advised projects by negotiating large financial contributions to the council’s coffers. Greedy councils can also hold cash strapped smaller developers to ransom for extortionate sums.

The financial element of Section 106 agreements should either be taken out of the hands of local planning authorities and regulated by an independent body or scrapped altogether and replaced with a transparent and uniform land development tax that could be used for local roads, schools, etc.

Why is this idea important?

If you assume that a property developer wheeling a barrow load of cash down to the town hall to buy a planning consent would end up in jail, think again.  It is perfectly legal under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

To “legalised bribery” add blackmail and extortion with council planners extracting huge sums of money from developers. Again, there is nothing unlawful about that.

This dark little corner of planning law also allows cosy deals between local authorities and developers which may not always be in the public interest.

The 1990 Act states:

106 Agreements regulating development or use of land

 (1) A local planning authority may enter into an agreement with any person interested in land in their area for the purpose of restricting or regulating the development or use of the land, either permanently or during such period as may be prescribed by the agreement.

(2) Any such agreement may contain such incidental and consequential provisions (including financial ones) as appear to the local planning authority to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the agreement.

Examine any planning consent for a major construction project and you will invariably find that a Section 106 legal agreement has been hatched up between the council planners and the developer. In most cases, the developer pays money – sometimes huge amounts – for his planning consent. Ostensibly, the contribution is to offset the impact of the development on local amenities such as roads and schools.

The problem is that it is up to the developer and the planners to reach a deal and tie it up in a legal agreement. This is unsafe and open to abuse.

Developers can buy influence over ill advised projects by negotiating large financial contributions to the council’s coffers. Greedy councils can also hold cash strapped smaller developers to ransom for extortionate sums.

The financial element of Section 106 agreements should either be taken out of the hands of local planning authorities and regulated by an independent body or scrapped altogether and replaced with a transparent and uniform land development tax that could be used for local roads, schools, etc.

End misleading supermarket “special offers”

Consumers need a masters degree in shopping to negotiate the often confusing and misleading special offers in the big supermarkets.

Two-for-one, three-for-two, buy-one-get-one-free deals work if they are honest and straightforward..

But, all too often, consumers only discover that they have been ripped off when they later check their till receipts. Most are too busy to check, which means extra profits for the supermarket giants.

Some deals are so confusing that even the supermarket staff themselves find it difficult to interpret them when challenged.

Point out a mistake and the managment invariably quotes "human error.". This is hard to accept when the shelves are carefully stacked in line with special "planograms" sent out by head office.

It is common to find an end-of-aisle shelf stacked with "special offers" with one or two items expressly excluded from the deal – a sure fire way of confusing busy mums and pensioners.

Consumer law should be amended to force the big supermarkets to be honest and fair with their customers. The new test should be – if a special offer is capable of being misunderstood by anybody, it is illegal. It should be as simple as that.
 

Why is this idea important?

Consumers need a masters degree in shopping to negotiate the often confusing and misleading special offers in the big supermarkets.

Two-for-one, three-for-two, buy-one-get-one-free deals work if they are honest and straightforward..

But, all too often, consumers only discover that they have been ripped off when they later check their till receipts. Most are too busy to check, which means extra profits for the supermarket giants.

Some deals are so confusing that even the supermarket staff themselves find it difficult to interpret them when challenged.

Point out a mistake and the managment invariably quotes "human error.". This is hard to accept when the shelves are carefully stacked in line with special "planograms" sent out by head office.

It is common to find an end-of-aisle shelf stacked with "special offers" with one or two items expressly excluded from the deal – a sure fire way of confusing busy mums and pensioners.

Consumer law should be amended to force the big supermarkets to be honest and fair with their customers. The new test should be – if a special offer is capable of being misunderstood by anybody, it is illegal. It should be as simple as that.