6th December 2017

Greenwich Council finally publishes information on £1/4bn funding

After years of prevarication and delay, Greenwich Council’s Cabinet decided to publish details of its Section 106 payments online for the first time this evening.

Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) allows local authorities to seek financial contributions from planning applicants in order to make the application acceptable. This “S106” is a legally binding agreement between the council and the developer. It could be a financial contribution for affordable homes elsewhere in the borough in return for a lower requirement, or none, at the development or transport and public realm improvements to mitigate the impact.

While this was first promised in July 2015’s Planning Obligations (s106) Guidance it has taken rather a long time, with numerous resident enquiries and Freedom of Information requests, to get this far.

An excerpt from July 2015’s Royal Greenwich Supplementary Planning Guidance

Despite private assurances from the Denise Hyland (Labour – Abbey Wood – Greenwich Council Leader) last year that all S106 information was published and available online, tonight’s Cabinet papers reveal a different story.

Excerpt from the 2017 S106 Annual Financial Report

However, one important piece of information is missing from the published information – the “Deferred Liability Date” for each agreement at which the monies must have been spent – as S106 agreements have time limits after which the funds are no longer available.

When this website first started investigating the figures back in 2015 we eventually received confirmation from the Directorate of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills that this had happened with a number of agreements. These agreements, totalling nearly £1.5m, had expired and required renegotiation.

In the spirit of true transparency we hope the council will commit to amending the published document with this information, as quickly as possible.

Why is this important?

Notwithstanding the constant cry of “Government cuts”, and the supersedence of S106 with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), these Section 106 payments represent a massive revenue stream for our local areas which could be used to make things a lot better. Even with CIL taking its place, S106 raised over £91m for the Council in the 2015-2016 financial year.

WardS106 SecuredS106 receivedS106 Secured but
not yet received
S106 Spent
Abbey Wood1,358,5141,308,51450,000837,960
Blackheath Westcombe860,516860,5160838,300
Coldharbour & New Eltham321,505230,15691,34957,942
Eltham North475,519326,411214,159306,411
Eltham South1,168,3221,057,322111,000897,459
Eltham West47,834,09510,711,85633,372,2397,759,103
Greenwich West22,682,50717,010,0845,672,42311,045,886
Kidbrooke with Hornfair1,595,2461,574,24621,0001,469,250
Middle Park & Sutcliffe433,435433,4350364,700
Shooters Hill204,986204,9860171,615
Thamesmead Moorings6,942,8746,499,474443,4006,077,397
Woolwich Common10,549,6081,969,1948,580,4141,182,642
Woolwich Riverside50,567,08521,088,97429,453,11114,803,890

These agreements can take a long time to pay out but there’s over £37m in the kitty right now, with another £174m yet to come. Greenwich’s S106s have been split into categories of use and you can see the proportions below.

CategoryS106 SecuredS106 ReceivedS106 Secured but
not yet received
S106 SpentS106 Remaining
Affordable Housing50,237,5128,211,81242,025,7003,095,0005,116,812
Carbon Offset527,521117,038410,4830117,038
Cultural Strategy5,921,5544,705,7811,215,7734,173,692532,089
Emergency Services3,385,313452,9482,881,5900452,948
Environmental Monitoring4,461,8062,013,8772,447,9291,089,446924,431
Local Community10,899,5194,761,8786,137,6413,070,9331,690,945
Monitoring & Compliance3,247,7731,836,3951,441,1971,311,343525,053
Open Space7,242,5772,152,5375,090,040790,4601,362,077
Professional Fees229,050229,0500228,750300
Public Art398,274171,392226,882138,00033,392
Public Realm8,920,7794,105,3624,815,4172,980,9591,124,403
Public Safety4,651,0252,415,5672,235,4581,595,290820,277
Social Services5,234,188854,8884,379,301289,784565,104
Sport General4,821,848598,9544,222,89428,897570,057
Transport General44,748,92616,054,46728,669,4589,191,8556,862,613
Waste Management1,043,895217,389826,5067,200210,189

With any large, draft dataset like this there are a number of questions on some lines. Berkeley Homes’ Ferrier Estate agreement for planning reference 08/2782/O shows a signed S106 for £10.3m to be spent on education. £6.55m has been received and £5.291m spent on Thomas Tallis School but the figures appear to show £3.75m unaccounted for.

Additionally, there are eight S106 agreements with blank figures for the amounts secured. We’ve asked for clarification and hope there’s an answer at next week’s full Council meeting.

It’s admirable that Greenwich are finally beginning to embrace transparency and Open Data after years of asking about this, and other, datasets held by the council. However, the format (PDF) leaves a lot to be desired. We’ve converted the draft document into a more useable format and we’ll look at something even better when the final document is published.

Stewart Christie

Stewart Christie

Recovering cult escapee. Tread carefully.

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3 Responses

  1. 17th December 2017

    […] Greenwich Council finally publishes information on £1bn funding […]

  2. 28th August 2018

    […] Council only recently started to reveal how they spend income after it became a legal requirement. This revealed the very high percentage of income going towards […]

  3. 12th February 2019

    […] spending commitments from developers and income being received. If we go further back the sums increase substantially. At the end of 2017 £174m was yet to be received. Half of all residential income is spent on […]

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