Dorset Council received over £16.7m from developer contributions in the last financial year according to recently released documents.
Section 106 agreements, along with the newer Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), are legal financial agreements between a council and a developer to help ensure large construction projects fund infrastructure improvements for existing and new communities.
The level of funding is calculated to provide additional infrastructure, such as schools, health facilities and the transport network, and in many instances, the money funds the provision of new facilities.
Dorset Council has favoured larger developments over smaller extensions of existing villages in its draft Local Plan, as strategic development concentrated in selected areas can have greater benefits: the planning permission for Gillingham’s Southern Extension, comprising around 1,800 new homes, will generate £23.8m in developer contributions alone in future years.
The North Dorchester Consortium, formed of Charles Church and Grainger, is proposing to create 3,500 homes north of Dorchester at the North Dorchester Garden Community, on land which has been identified as a location for strategic development in several of Dorset Council’s draft Local Plans, including the current draft Plan.
A spokesperson for the Consortium commented: “Bringing development together helps unlock far-reaching infrastructure improvements, which is not possible where development is spread around in small pockets with multiple landowners. For example, North Dorchester will have the critical mass to support schools, a doctor’s surgery, and footpath and road improvements. The clearest example is a new link road connecting the A37 and A35 to the north of the town to relieve traffic on the Southern Bypass and on Dorchester’s High Street. As the Consortium controls all the land needed, the link road could be delivered seamlessly as part of the construction of the North Dorchester Garden Community or funded through our developer contributions. Whichever way, it serves to create an additional benefit for the area that wouldn’t otherwise come about if smaller pockets of housing was proposed.”
Dorset Council’s Infrastructure Funding Statement shows that a total of £16,709,048 was received from developers in the 2021/22 period. Section 106 funding can be pooled over time to provide Dorset Council with more meaningful sums of money. In West Dorset for example, just over £4m has been allocated towards education but not yet spent. Overall, the total amount of Section 106 money allocated by Dorset Council but not spent for the monitoring year 2021/22 was £38.3m.
The importance of developer contributions to fund infrastructure improvements across England has been identified by the Local Government Association (LGA), which calculates that developer contributions fund an estimated £7billion worth of improvements each year to transport links, schools and GP surgeries, and bring forward more affordable housing.
Improved homes, infrastructure and services are vitally important reasons for communities to permit local housing development, says the (LGA), which represents local councils in England.
Development of the North Dorchester Garden Community will help fund a new three tier education campus to relieve pressure on the existing schools. Furthermore, the Consortium has already held discussions to increase access to health practitioners locally and a new medical centre is planned within the development.
In addition, a new visitor centre with café will take pride of place in a new, 200-acre Frome Valley Country Park and nature reserve, opening up the area for the enjoyment of the community to boost health and wellbeing.
People interested in receiving the latest information regarding progress of the North Dorchester Garden Community can register their interest on the Consortium’s website (www.northdorchester.org.uk) and also undertake a survey to share their aspirations for the development.
Source: Dorset Council’s Infrastructure Funding Statement, Monitoring Year 2021/22
Accompanying image: Plan from the North Dorchester Consortium showing the proposed Link Road.
Press Contact: Rowena Collins or Steve Jolly at Marengo Communications