Contractual payments made by property developers in the city are being unlocked to provide additional funding for community infrastructure projects and improvements.
At a meeting of the Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism & Economic Development Committee on 9 November 2023 councillors will review the Annual Infrastructure Funding Statement, which reports money paid by developers to the council in the year to 31 March.
They will also hear how £9m of additional funding has been released since April to support further neighbourhood and city-wide projects.
Section 106 agreements, along with the newer Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), ensure that developments in the city support the cost of local improvements to benefit both their new residents and the existing community.
The amount of Section 106 money received by the council in 2022/23 reduced from the previous year to £3.6m. This fall reflects both the introduction of CIL and the lower number of major planning applications being submitted by developers last year.
In 2022/23 over £4.5m of Section 106 funds were spent on key projects including:
- £1.56M on our affordable housing scheme at Victoria Road, Portslade
- £924,000 on our affordable housing home purchase scheme, and
- £636,000 on our citywide playground refurbishment programme.
Playgrounds benefited from this funding in Hollingdean Park, Rottingdean Recreation Park, Saltdean Oval, Knoll Park, Woollards Field (Maggie’s Corner) and Queens Park.
The Moulsecoomb Forest Garden & Wildlife Project and Whitehawk Hill North were amongst other City Parks projects to receive funding.
Section 106 obligations can include “non-monetary” contributions, such as affordable housing units on site. Last year we entered into 13 planning agreements which will deliver 359 affordable housing units and shared ownership homes.
Section 106 money can only be spent on specific types of local improvements, including travel and transport initiatives, community and recreation facilities, education, health and affordable housing. The spend against each development is laid out in a contract between the council and the developer. Despite the financial pressure council budgets are under, the money cannot be used to support other priorities unless that new spend meets the terms of the Section 106 contract.
The Community Infrastructure Levy has now largely replaced Section 106 agreements and covers a much wider range of developments. £2.01m of CIL receipts were collected in 22/23.
Around 75% of CIL money will be spent on city-wide projects already identified by the council. However, through the new Enhance Brighton & Hove Fund being launched next year, funding will also be set aside for neighbourhood projects in the wards where development has taken place.
Councillor Alan Robins, Chair of the Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism & Economic Development Committee said: “Early next year we will be launching our Enhance Brighton & Hove Fund & asking residents in wards which have attracted Community Infrastructure Levy Funds how money raised should be spent. Which council facilities or capital projects they would like to see this money spent on in their communities?
“Through the Enhance Brighton & Hove Fund 11 wards have accumulated funds already and others will benefit over the coming months and years. Each ward will have its own budget to spend on the projects residents support the most, with the 11 that have accumulated funds sharing a total fund of £419,000 this year.
“In future, as qualifying developments begin in other areas, more residents will have the chance to influence spending on the services and facilities they value most in their neighbourhood.”
Council Leader Bella Sankey said: “On 31 March 2023 the council’s Section 106 Fund had a balance of over £22m. In the 2022-23 financial year net spending from the fund was £4.5m.
“I’m delighted that since April double that amount - a further £9 million - has now been committed to projects across the city. These include:
- £3.9m to buy 60 new council homes, including 38 in the Kubic Apartments development, Whitehawk
- A further £800k for the playground refurbishment programme
- £1.27m to put back facilities in the Kingsway to the Sea new public park that would otherwise have had to have been scaled back, and
- £1.4 m in sustainable transport investment, including £630k for pedestrian crossings, drop kerbs and Beryl Bike stations city-wide.
“Additionally, we’ve earmarked £6.8m for future investment to support improvements to school buildings or facilities and the schemes in our Sports Strategy, when they are ready to be taken forward.
“We are committed to accelerating the allocation of Section 106 and CIL funds so that our local communities benefit from the development schemes and construction projects underway across the city.”