Salford hits back over ‘superficial’ Section 106 claims

The council has branded research by Strategic Land Group into developer contributions in Greater Manchester as “superficial”, arguing it “will not apologise for the amount collected in Section 106 monies”.

The research by SLG, published earlier this week, claimed Salford had the highest amount of unspent Section 106 payments at £11.8m, almost a third of Greater Manchester’s £36.8m unspent pot.

Of this £11.8m, SLG claimed Salford had spent around £2.3m. Across Greater Manchester, Trafford Council pulled in the highest level of developer contributions at £4.5m, while Bolton received £19,300.

However, responding to SLG’s research, Chris Findley, assistant director for planning and housing at Salford City Council argued the research was “very misleading and one-sided” and branded it as “a superficial piece of work”.

“The council will not apologise for the amount we have collected in Section 106 monies and we will also not apologise for our strategic use of these funds to develop the infrastructure of the city and create a pot to provide new social housing,” Findley said.

“The law means it is not possible for the council to start works on any improvement until all contributions have been paid from developers. If developers are making phased contributions, then we still cannot spend the money until the final payment has been received. It can take several years, sometimes longer, before developers fully make their full contribution.

“Some schemes can be funded by more than one developer but we still have to wait for all payments to be made – and this could be from up to five separate 106 agreements, but no more. There are also instances where Section 106 money might be kept in reserves to pay for maintenance of new open space over a 20-year period – so we do not have to use taxpayer’s money.

“We are proud to be transparent with our information and all the finances are published on our website quarterly and can be found here.

“We have looked at the report and it is a superficial piece of work. It would have been useful to discuss this with Strategic Land Group so they could provide accurate information as we know where all the funds are being used.”

Responding to the council, Strategic Land Group, said: “Salford Council is indeed one of the most transparent of the Greater Manchester councils in terms of monitoring S106 receipts and expenditure. The information used in our report was provided directly by each of the councils concerned – the data concerning Salford Council was derived from its own website, plus dialogue with a member of the planning team regarding the current level of unspent contributions.

“We are aware that there is often a lag between receiving the funds and spending it, for a whole variety of perfectly legitimate reasons – we do make this point clearly in the report. Furthermore, the research was never intended to be a detailed academic exercise – we have been clear that it is a snapshot in time based on the information that is available in order to provide an overview of the level of S106 contributions, and we have referenced the shortcomings of the data as a result of this approach.

“There is a lot of misinformation about the S106 regime and the aim of the report was to prompt a discussion around the quantum of receipts and their eventual use. We’re pleased that the report has had that effect.”

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