Call for local communities’ ideas for affordable housing projects
South Hams District Council is challenging local communities to come up with affordable housing projects on which it can spend some of the £4.4 million worth of developers’ cash it is sitting on.
The cash – known as Section 106 money – has been squeezed out of developers to mitigate against the impact of their housing projects across the district when it comes to education, roads, open space, sports facilities and affordable housing.
Now the district council wants local communities to spell out how the cash should be spent.
It wants parish and town councils, councillors and neighbourhood planning groups to come up with projects that the it can invest the affordable housing share of the 106 money in.
And later in the year it will be doing the same for the cash designated for open space and sports and recreation projects.
Cllr Simon Wright, the district council’s executive portfolio holder for support services explained: “We will be consulting with town and parish councils and ward members on when contributions are due for payment from developers. We will also be asking local councils, members and neighbourhood planning groups to come forward with specific proposals for affordable housing.
“If communities come forward with applications for affordable housing, we can really put this money to good use. We will shortly be contacting town and parish councils, groups and members with how they can apply.”
Developers are required to hand over money to mitigate against the impact of their development to be spent on the infrastructure in the communities where the development is taking place.
Often developers hand over cash for affordable housing instead of building affordable homes as part of their development.
Some of the money waiting to be spent on affordable housing and community facilities includes £459,415 from the Riverside development in Totnes – now called Camomile Lawn – and £150,191 from Sawmills Field in Dartington.
There has been criticism from local parish councils that they have little idea about how much money is available for their communities and calls for greater transparency.
South Hams Council said that hundreds of thousands of pounds of 106 money had already been spent on projects around the South Hams – including £320,000 towards the cost of the all weather pitch being built on the King Edward VI Community College site in Totnes.
Mr Wright said the district has now laid out plans to improve the process it goes through when spending the money that is gets from developers.
This includes plans to keep communities up-to-date on how the money is spent and a redesigned process of how funds could be spent on affordable housing projects.
He said: “While £4 million does sound like a lot of money, S106 contributions are constantly being added to the pot and then spent on improvements such as sports pitches, play parks and affordable homes.
“This is not a new pot of money, it’s continually being collected and distributed across the district.
“What is new, is how we’re striving to improve this process. Until now, what has been missing is a constant method of sharing the details of when money is collected and how it is spent, so the money can go to the local communities it is intended for.”