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S106 Education Contributions – Key Lessons

Section 106 developer contributions play an important role in funding and enabling the delivery of new school places. They can mitigate the impacts of development as well as contribute to the creation of attractive and sustainable neighbourhoods with modern infrastructure.

They are, however, a cost of development.

Our clients often ask us what is a reasonable and proportionate contribution relative to the impact of a development? We are also regularly asked about the robustness of capacity assessments and assumptions relied upon when councils request developer education contributions. This has led to our Economics team undertaking over 40 education assessments over the last year and a half on behalf of our developer clients.

Lessons Learned?

Our education assessment work across the country has highlighted to us a number of issues which regularly arise and which can result in overstatement of the need for contributions, or even act as a justification for not permitting development. This can lead to higher costs of development arising, or in the most severe cases act as a brake on development. In the face of a pressing need to deliver more homes to meet housing need, neither are desirable outcomes.

The common issues that we encounter include:

  • Duplicating financial contribution requests –seeking developer education contributions through S106 where a CIL 123 list which already includes for education is being applied.
  • Pre-judging future need through the process of determining planning applications – assuming education demand arising from the delivery of potential housing allocations prior to a Local Plan being adopted (or even submitted) and prior to the delivery and occupation of new homes.
  • Limiting the number of schools considered in capacity assessments – limiting consideration of capacity levels to that within the closest school, rather than applying the Department for Education’s recommended maximum walking distance from a development site.
  • Using education as a limiting factor on housing growth - limiting the scale of housing growth based on perceptions of education capacity constraints.

These are all challengeable issues, but require robust evidence in the form of an education assessment to be successful. This need not be an adversarial process, and many common issues with education capacity assessments and S106 requests can be resolved through early dialogue, sharing of robust and credible data and effective negotiation. In the rare instances where education matters are a reason for refusal of a planning permission, having a robust education assessment is imperative in appealing a decision successfully.    

Optimising outcomes

Our experience has enabled our clients to:

  • Plan positively and sustainably by building in the right amount of education provision into the early stages of masterplanning. We work for our clients to ensure masterplans include provision for the quantum of need as well responding to Local Education Authority (LEA) requirements for provision.
  • Challenge Local Plans where education is unreasonably being used to justify restraint in housing provision.
  • Accurately appraise the impacts of development on existing education provision.
  • Successfully negotiate S106 contributions with LEAs.
  • Save money where S106 contribution levels are proven to have been based on overstated requirement levels.

Should you wish to know more about how we can help you assess education needs and inform S106 contributions please contact Amy Gilham, Antony Pollard or Maxine Kennedy.

Our Planning team also helps clients to deliver education facilities. Contact Sara Dutfield if you would like more information.

More information can be found here:

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Turley Education Impact Assessments

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24 May 2018

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