New post to help bring in council cash

SCARBOROUGH Borough Council is hoping to appoint an officer to monitor planning agreements and make sure community developments are built and promised cash is paid.

The issue was raised at last week’s meeting of the planning committee and if approved the post could generate up to £40,000 for the local authority.

Concerns have been raised by committee members that some developers have not honoured Section 106 agreements – planning obligations which are legally binding agreements drawn up when planning permission is granted.

Earlier this month council documents revealed that almost £700,000 had not been paid by developers behind the £140 million North Bay Development, which is also known as the Sands, and planning officers had been in urgent discussions to get the situation resolved.

Planning permission for the North Bay Development was agreed in October 2004 and at the time Benchmark Leisure agreed to pay £537,566 to provide affordable housing, £140,365 for education and £11,856 towards a cycle route.

Jill Low, the council’s planning manager, said that she hoped that a major project officer post could be created.

She said: “Given the amount of fairly complex schemes we are dealing with at the moment. It all needs monitoring and it’s all pretty time consuming.

“It’s a very important job because it’s actually getting money in for the council and it’s important that we keep on top of these things.”

She added that the council was considering introducing charges for the monitoring process.

“We think that we could be raising about £30,000 to £40,000 a year,” she said.

Pauline Elliott, the council’s head of regeneration and planning, said it was better to have someone “in-house” because it was more cost effective than hiring external consultants.

Councillor Mick Jay-Hanmer agreed that it was better to have a post created inhouse.

He said: “They would be doing a professional job – it’s a different story with consultants.”

Ms Low said that more developments were subject to the Section 106 agreements.

She added: “As far as I am aware most of the money has been paid in the past.”

Currently the Section 106 agreements are monitored by a number of different council departments.

The committee voted in favour of the report and it will next be considered by the cabinet.