Brandon Lewis says “farce” of lengthy negotiations must end

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has promised to reform the way that section 106 deals work in order to end the “farce” of multi-year delays to large projects.

Speaking at a Centre for Social Justice fringe event at the Conservative Party conference, Lewis said he would take further action to reform planning in order to reduce the difficulties seen by developers getting approval to start on site.

Talking about section 106 deals, where controversial “viability” negotiations are conducted behind closed doors between developers and councils in order to agree the level of affordable housing and other planning obligations, Lewis said: “We need to create something that can’t be gamed by either side. This farce where it takes several years after a permission in principle has been given just cannot be allowed to continue.

“Getting planning is a huge barrier to entry for SMEs.”

The government has already announced plans to free up planning rules on brownfield land, and to step in at local authorities who haven’t formulated a local plan.

Lewis also referred to a scheme which took ten years of negotiation with the local community to get on site as representing “everything that was wrong” with the system. “It used to take nine weeks from buying a site to get a planning permission. I’d like it to be closer to nine weeks than a decade to get on site.”