Council left chasing a £311k shortfall...

Rail company representatives and others look at the improvements to Halifax train station.'Councillor David Hardy.
Rail company representatives and others look at the improvements to Halifax train station.'Councillor David Hardy.

MORE than £300,000 remains unpaid by developers which would have been used to boost community facilities.

Calderdale Council is chasing £311,000 which was agreed under Section 106 agreements.

They were introduced to allow local authorities to draw up legally binding contracts with developers.

As part of planning conditions developers agree to pay for improvements in the community.

This might include a housing estate having a certain amount of homes more affordable to the general population, building a community centre, a school extension, or paying for leisure facilities.

Calderdale Council is owed far more than most local authorities with £2,296,394 outstanding but council officers says that figure is misleading.

Head of housing and environment Mark Thompson said: “The figure of £2,296,394 includes substantial sums of money that we have agreed with developers, on building projects that have planning permission but are yet to commence on the ground.

“The total that is outstanding from various companies is £311,000 and we are chasing these companies to arrange for them to make payment.”

Councillor David Hardy, chairman of the economy and environment scrutiny panel, was confident the vast majority of money owed would be paid.

“In planning, £311,000 is not a lot of money,” he said.

“But, it is always something we have to be aware of because it is public money and it’s right our enforcement and planning people should be on their toes to keep up to it.”

In an effort to limit non-payment, some councils have informed prospective house buyers that they may become liable for unpaid Section 106 agreements – making developments unattractive and impossible to sell.

Consequently, that puts pressure on the builder to pay the agreed money over.

But, where developers have gone bust councils have faced writing off the money and scrapping community projects.

Sheffield Council explored holding homeowners responsible but councillors relented as the approach would make them extremely unpopular with buyers struggling to meet payments on homes which had decreased in value. Leeds Council is among several with no outstanding payments.