Research from The Strategic Land Group has revealed Greater Manchester councils received £15.7m in Section 106 contributions for the 2017/18 financial year, although there remains £36.8m unspent across the 10 boroughs.
Trafford Council pulled in the highest level of developer contributions at £4.5m, while Bolton received £19,300.
The range is due to different levels of development taking place in each area. Across Greater Manchester as a whole, the average S106 contribution was £1,939 for each home built.
Highways improvements attracted the highest levels of contributions, totalling £4.4m, but affordable housing, open space and education provision also attracted significant sums.
The research is based on information published by councils online, and Freedom of Information requests.
SLG also looked into how much of the money is spent. Wigan and Rochdale did not declare a figure, while the remaining eight councils in Greater Manchester are holding a total of £36.8m in developer contributions – equivalent to more than three times the annual receipt, which SLG suggests means the money may have been held for some time.
The amount held by each authority varies widely. Tameside Council holds £930,000, while Salford Council has an unspent pot of more than £11.8m – almost a third of the regional total.
Manchester City Council and Trafford Council did not provide information on how much of the developer contributions received has been spent.
Salford Council spent more than £2.3m, while Tameside Council spent less than £14,000 from contributions of £449,000. In Wigan, the use of settlement specific infrastructure assessments secured the payment of more than £1.6m for improvements in Standish, Goldborne and Lowton, much of which will be spent on the highways network. The £3.2m received in contributions by Salford City Council is not earmarked for any specific use.
Paul Smith, managing director of The Strategic Land Group, said: “There is a widely-held belief that developers contribute little to the communities in which they build new homes, which simply isn’t the case. Our research provides a snapshot of the funds paid to local authorities to invest in local communities – the most shocking aspect of the research is, in fact, the amount still unspent. Although the holding of contributions isn’t unusual, it appears that some councils have held their pots of money for some time, which will no doubt raise questions from communities, many of which continue to battle the effects of austerity. There will be questions asked around changing needs and whether a process is needed to divert S106 contributions to support other priorities.
“It’s also worth noting that the number of new homes proposed by the GMSF is likely to require significant expenditure on community infrastructure, with as much as £390m paid by developers. That’s a huge contribution towards roads, parks, school places and other infrastructure that wouldn’t otherwise take place. But for that money to have an impact, it’s important that local authorities spend the payments they receive.
“It’s clear that developers stump up a significant amount of money, but it’s vital to have transparency on how – and when – that money is spent by local authorities.”
Read the full research paper – https://strategiclandgroup.co.uk/developer-contributions-report/