Communities Secretary Eric Pickles launched a consultation today on proposals which would allow developers to ask councils to renegotiate Section 106 obligations if they were agreed prior to April 2010
Pickles said too much development is being stalled because of economically unrealistic agreements negotiated between councils and developers at the height of the housing boom.
The Section 106 agreements require developers to make a financial contribution to the community or provide housing, amenities or infrastructure as part of their planning permission.
The Government is also sending teams of intermediaries out to selected local authorities to help kick-start renegotiations of these deals to stop them being a barrier to getting building underway.
The pioneering councils are Leeds, Ipswich, Corby, Swindon, Ashford, Gloucester, Kirklees, Carlisle, Northumberland and Durham.
Pickles said: “Tackling problems with stalled development is essential to getting builders back on moth-balled sites and building the homes we need.
“There is huge potential in sites to boost local economies and we simply cannot afford to have them lying idle because of earlier agreements that are no longer viable.
“The support and advice the expert brokers will offer is one of the many measures we have introduced to get development underway and I hope councils grab this chance to make use of the support we are offering.”
Ministers made it clear that renegotiations of Section 106 agreements will not remove the developer’s obligation to provide critical infrastructure or other contributions to offset the effects of the development, and they should not result in land banking.
Pat Ritchie, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “As a sector we need to see as many stalled sites as possible unlocked to deliver much needed new homes.
“So where sites are stalled because of agreements signed under very different economic conditions, we will work with councils to help see how we can get them moving again while meeting the needs and priorities of local communities.”
It is estimated that there are currently more than 1,400 housing schemes of more than 10 housing units with planning permission that are stalled.