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Planning Activism

New Ethical Property Foundation guide shows local people how to maximise community gain from new developments

When a new development is built, the developer contributes 'Section 106' or 'planning obligations' payments to compensate for any negative impacts or provide for the needs of the new community.

Although it is the local community that feels the positive and negative impacts of development, it is the developer and council that negotiate the planning obligations deal.

Whilst there is no strict legal requirement for the council or developer to consult the community on planning obligations – or to involve the community in planning obligations negotiations – local communities can and do shape planning obligations using a wide range of tactics.

The Ethical Property Foundation has produced a practical guide, drawing lessons from real life examples, which will arm local people with the information needed to maximise community benefits from planning obligations. 

Foundation Director Jo Taylor comments: "the Foundation’s new guide shows that a genuine community role in the Section 106 process can deliver wins for the community, council and developer.  It is key that the Government incorporates clear guidance on the role of local people in the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which is planned to partially replace Section 106 agreements." 

The No Pain Guide to Gain: A Community Guide to Planning Obligations is the outcome of a collaboration between the Ethical Property Foundation, the Rayne Foundation, and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA). It forms part of the Future Planning project which aims to ensure that community groups, planning professionals, government and developers have the information, tools and best practice knowledge to deliver community benefits effectively, in particular via Section 106 agreements.

The TCPA has prepared a guide to help planners and developers to deliver better quality development that meets the needs of the local community. 'Planning Community Needs – a guide to effective Section 106 agreements & Statements of Community Involvement' is available from the TCPA website.

Planning Activism in action: Local residents do a deal with developer

Bankside Residents Forum in London made a direct approach to developer Land Securities. Land Securities was developing an office block and retaining the freehold of the property, so had an incentive to invest in the surrounding area to ensure that the offices remained attractive to potential tenants.

The key ingredients to success for the Forum were knowing a key representative at Land Securities through local business forum ‘Better Bankside’, and having Forum members able to ‘speak the developer’s language’. The Forum negotiated a package of contributions with the developer who then took the agreed package to the council as part of its planning obligations offer.

The package included a contribution of £50,000 for works to community space, £15,000 to pay for public consultation on open spaces, £400,000 towards street lighting, and the establishment of a community fund that will help local organisations with small grants of around £5,000.

Follow this link to download The No Pain Guide to Gain.  You can also read the Foundation's press release by clicking here.

If you would like a hard copy please send a request to

“Essential reading and a vital reference for communities”, David Farnsworth, neighbourhood planning activist

The Foundation’s jargon-free, practical guide answers Frequently Asked Questions on planning obligations, provides a checklist of actions to take to maximise your impact at each stage of a planning application, and lists key contacts who can help you to deliver community gains through planning obligations.