New Circular on Planning Obligations

United Kingdom

ODPM Circular 05/2005 on Planning Obligations was published on 18 July 2005 replacing Circular 1/97. This circular makes modest changes to the previous guidance, aiming to clarify the basis on which planning obligations should be assessed for their acceptability in policy terms and give further guidance on the process of securing obligations. It does not introduce an optional planning charge as proposed in the Government's November 2003 consultation paper Contributing to sustainable communities: a new approach.

Some minor changes have been made to the detailed drafting of the Circular following consultation in November 2004. However, there has been no radical departure from the consultation draft.

Key points to note in the new guidance in Circular 05/2005 are summarised below:

  • Emphasis on delivery of sustainable development
  • Further guidance given by way of examples on the circumstances when affordable housing may be reasonably secured, contributions for facilities to mitigate the impact of the development and contributions for compensating loss or damage caused by a development
  • Policies on types of payment contributions, including pooling and maintenance payments, should be set out in Local Development Frameworks. Generic policies on payment types should be contained in Development Plan Documents and the details of their application in Supplementary Planning Documents
  • Negotiation of planning obligations should not unnecessarily delay the planning process and hold up development. All parties are advised to proceed as quickly as possible towards resolution of obligations in parallel to planning applications
  • Local authorities are encouraged to consider the development of codes of practice in negotiating planning obligations so as to make clear the level of service a developer can expect
  • Local authorities are encouraged to employ formulae and standard charges where appropriate, to be published in a public document, as part of their framework for negotiating and securing planning obligations
  • Local authorities are encouraged to publish standard heads of term, agreements/undertakings or model clauses wherever possible in the interest of speed and efficiency.