November urban white paper is expected to recommend planning gain be replaced by fixed Impact fee.
Planning gain agreements may be scrapped and replaced by fixed charges written into development plans according to recommendations in the urban white paper to be published next month.

Under the planning gain system developers negotiate with local councils over amenities, such as schools, libraries, or social housing, which they promise to provide in return for planning permission. The process has long been criticised by planners and housebuilders on the grounds that it is not transparent.

It was also criticised in Lord Rogers’ urban taskforce report, which claimed that it inhibited development in run-down areas.

Sources close to Lord Rogers’ urban taskforce said that fixed fees (to be known as impact fees) would enable developers to know from the development plan what they were required to pay to the local authority.

David Rose, director of public affairs at the Royal Town Planning Institute, welcomed proposals to end the system. He said: “We have been unhappy about the negotiated approach because it is not public and up-front. We are absolutely in favour of moving towards a consultative approach on planning gain. If that is what the paper proposes it will make the process fair.”

The DETR is expected to release a consultation document on planning gain next month, shortly before publication of the white paper.

The proposal to put an end to planning gain deals (known officially as section 106 agreements) is one of a series of recommendations made by the urban taskforce that are likely to be included in the pre-budget statement or urban white paper.

Others include the setting up of centres of excellence in design and architecture. These institutions could also be used to provide training in urban regeneration skills.

Among the suggested financial incentives are tax breaks for cleaning up contaminated sites, a reduction in stamp duty on the sale of new houses in inner cites and business rate reductions for firms that take part in regeneration schemes.

The white paper will also follow the urban taskforce’s proposal that planners, architects and surveyors work more closely together.