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Draft developer contributions framework

Summary of key issues and response

Chapter 5 – General Principles

You Said Response Final DCF

Planning agreements require agreement from anyone with an estate in the land – how can they be applied to the upgrade of streets in public ownership?

Comment – the Framework advocates a general approach whereby public realm improvements take the form of in kind contributions which can be secured by planning condition. Where the public realm works would be on public land, and the relevant Department has offered no objection, there is a reasonable prospect that the works can be delivered. In such circumstances, it is appropriate to use a planning condition. However, in cases where the public realm works would be on private third party land this would need to be secured by a planning agreement. No change

Paragraph 5.5 should include reference to education and heritage in the list of typical contribution types

Comment – paragraph 5.5 will be amended to include built heritage. Contributions may be required towards education infrastructure such as schools. However, given current arrangements and that this is only likely to apply to largescale strategic developments and will be infrequent, it is considered unnecessary to include this in the list of mainstream developer contribution types

Included at par. 5.5

The Council should work with other local authorities across the UK to establish best practice around viability and the process of assessing viability

Comment – the Council will have regard to best practice in the UK and ROI around consideration of viability issues

No change

Greater consistency is required around developer contributions being either ‘required’ or ‘necessary’ (e.g. paragraph 5.7)

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to ensure consistent use of the correct terminology to reflect the test which is contributions must be “necessary” to make the development acceptable

Terminology changed to “need” or “necessary” throughout the document as appropriate

The word “deliberate” should be removed from paragraph 5.9

Comment – the Framework will be amended to state that the council will be alert to development proposals that fall below the thresholds, deliberately or otherwise, with the consequence that Developer Contributions are not required

Included at par. 5.9

The value of financial contributions should be expected to rise in line with inflation otherwise the contribution is devalued, particularly if development commences some time down the line. Reference should be added at paragraph 5.12

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include a general principle that the value of commuted sums and monitoring fees will be index linked to take account of inflation

Included at par. 5.14

Reference to Planning, Archaeology and Built Heritage is missing at paragraph 5.5

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to built heritage, consistent with the inclusion of the other chapters

Included at par. 5.5

With regard to paragraph 5.2 how will the Council engage with communities? Which communities will be involved?

Comment – the onus is on developers to engage with communities and this is a requirement for Major developments. This is referenced in paragraph 5.2 of the Framework.

No change

What are the criteria for the key tests at paragraph 5.7? (i.e. how will the “necessary” and “proportionate” tests be evaluated?

Comment – application of these tests is a matter of judgement for the Council as decision-maker and will be informed by policy requirements and feedback from consultees

No change

The Framework should state that viability “is” a material consideration rather than “maybe” (paragraph 17.1)

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to incorporate this change

Included at par. 17.1

Concerns that the requirement for developer contributions will render schemes unviable and may stunt growth of the city. Land values in Northern Ireland are different to the rest of the UK. A particular concern given the impasse at Stormont and prospect of Brexit

Comment – the approach of the Framework is to apply existing regional planning policy and provide the Council’s interpretation of the policy – it is not introducing any new policy requirements over and above what is already in force. Therefore, land values should already reflect planning policy requirements. The Framework is very clear that the viability of a scheme will be considered when assessing the requirement for contributions where the applicant challenges it on viability grounds and submits a Viability Appraisal.

No change

There should be a regional approach to developer contributions rather than an approach specific to Belfast

Disagree – as mentioned above the Framework’s approach is based on existing regional policy that applies across Northern Ireland. Individual Planning Authority may bring forward guidance to help amplify its consideration of regional policy. Each District area is unique and a “one size fits all” approach  will not be appropriate

No change

The Framework does not give a clear indication as to what level of profit the Council considers reasonable for a developer to make on a project

Comment – the Council proposes to independently assess Viability Appraisals submitted by a developer and the level of profit will be considered as part of that process having regard to best practice

No change

The Framework makes no mention of acceptable land values nor is there a district valuation process in place

Comment – the Framework is not introducing any new policies over and above the existing regional policy framework. As such there is no transition whereby land values need to “catch up” with new and emerging policy requirements. Viability Appraisals will be independently assessed

No change

It is questioned how the Framework can be published ahead of adoption of the Local Development Plan Strategy

Comment – the Framework provides the Council’s interpretation of current regional planning policy. Although it will not have Supplementary Planning Guidance status, it will be an important material consideration when planning applications are assessed. The Framework will be reviewed and refreshed after adoption of the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy

No change

Concerns about the lack of guidance around affordable housing contributions

Comment – it is expected that contributions towards affordable housing will become a mainstream requirement on adoption of the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy. The current policy framework does not support the routine requirement for affordable housing as part of larger residential schemes

No change

It is a significant burden for financial contributions to be made on commencement of development. Payments should be phased

Comment – the point at which financial contributions are paid will vary from case to case and will be reflective of the nature of the contribution and the purpose it serves. Chapter 17 of the Framework recognises that payments may need to be phased in the interests of viability No change

Developer contributions should be secured by condition rather than through planning agreements

Comment – the Framework will be amended to make it clearer as to when a condition can be used and when contributions must be secured by way of a planning agreement. For example, under Section 76 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, financial contributions must be secured by way of a planning agreement.

Included at par. 2.10

Unclear about how developer contributions can be sought towards public realm and other areas which are not the responsibility of the Council

Comment – the Council will work in partnership with Government Departments as necessary. For example, the public realm Catalyst pilot is a joint project between the Council, DfC and DfI

No change

Concerned that the Framework will set a precedent across Northern Ireland, particularly an issue given the economic frailty of the region

Disagree – the Framework provides guidance for the District of Belfast only. It is a matter for other council planning authorities to introduce guidance if they see fit.

No change

A much clearer understanding is required around the actual values of contributions that the Council expects. It cannot be that each case is judged on its merits. The Framework should provide greater certainty as to when developer contributions are required and how financial contributions are calculated (e.g. cost per sqm)

Comment – the Framework is not advocating a levy approach whereby financial contributions are calculated according to the quantum of development such as floor space. In kind contributions will generally be favoured. However, where a financial contribution is required this will be calculated on a case by case basis according to specific requirements and this, along with the rationale for the value of the contribution, will be made clear to the applicant at the time of the negotiation

No change

There is little consideration of wider impact to the local population with increased densities promoted by the Belfast Agenda e.g. potential for anti-social behaviour

Comment – the Framework will be applied in the context of the current regional planning policy framework. The objectives of Belfast Agenda are enshrined in the emerging Belfast Local Development Plan which is yet to be adopted. Notwithstanding, designing out crime is already a material consideration to be taken into account as appropriate when applications are assessed

No change
Emphasising the importance of community engagement early in the process to influence development proposals. Communities to input into and help shape developer contributions. Current consultation processes are ineffective. Communities should be involved in the Pre Application Discussion process. Communities should also be involved on how contributions should be used. Communities are often disadvantaged by lack of knowledge of the planning process. Comment – there is a statutory requirement for an applicant to consult with communities in advance of submitting a planning application for Major development. This provides a forum for discussion on developer contributions. Pre Application Discussions between an applicant and the Council are confidential for reasons of commercial sensitivity and communities cannot be directly involved as part of that process unless there is an agreement from the applicant. Developer contributions must meet planning policy requirements and are not aspirational – therefore the expectation of the scope of contributions needs to be managed. Developer contributions are distinct from community benefits as made clear at paragraph 2.10 of the draft Framework. Relevant service areas within the Council are responsible for managing and spending financial contributions and may engage with communities around this where appropriate. For example, the governance around the public realm pilot Catalyst project will involve community engagement concerning the design proposals No change

Concerned that applying viability arguments will water down the quality of schemes e.g. impact on good design

Comment – the Framework makes it clear that the requirement to provide developer contributions may not be used as a reason to dilute other planning policy requirements such as ensuring good quality design

No change

The thresholds for requiring developers contributions are too low and contributions should not be the norm

Disagree – it is considered that the thresholds set by the Framework are appropriate. In many cases they apply to Major developments. Lower thresholds are reflective of current planning policy e.g. PPS 8 requires residential schemes of 25 units or more to provide on-site open space

No change

The bureaucracy and “red tape” around developer contributions (and planning agreements) could significantly slow down the planning process

Comment – the requirement for a planning agreement has the potential to delay the planning process. The Framework therefore advocates the front-loading of developer contributions by discussing requirements at the Pre Application Discussion stage, negotiating heads of terms for the agreement and even preparing draft agreements in advance (see Chapter 16 of draft Framework). The Council is currently preparing model planning agreements which it will publish on its website to help streamline the process further

No change

Developer contributions should be applied where there is a significant uplift in land values resulting from a development

Disagree – developer contributions are not a development tax and should only be required where they are necessary to make development acceptable

No change

It is unrealistic to expect a developer to always meet the capital costs of infrastructure – infrastructure is often funded from several sources. This runs contrary to the principle that the contributions are “directly related in scale and kind”.

Agreed – contributions must be proportionate and directly relate in scale and kind. The Framework will be amended to make this clear as a general principle and paragraph 7.14 (and its equivalent in other chapters) will be re-worded accordingly

Included at par. 7.14 (and equivalent paragraphs)

The issue of trans-council boundaries should be included with reference to off-site provision of open space, air quality, sustainable transport, and storm water flooding. This supports the central tenet of strengthening the Belfast Metropolitan Area

Agree – the Council can in some circumstances secure contributions in respect of operations outside its administrative boundary. For example, this could relate to the requirement for highway improvements outside but close to the District boundary. Reference to trans-boundary issues will be included in the Framework.

Included at par. 5.13

Section 8 of the Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 requires public bodies to have regard to appropriate marine policies. The Framework, including its SEA, are required to have regard to UK Marine Policy Statement (UK MPS). The Framework and SEA report should therefore reflect this consideration. There will be instances where development proposals affect the marine area. The Framework does not capture all the potential environmental impacts resulting from development i.e. identifying and managing risks from contaminated land and impacts to water resources and quality (both groundwater and surface water). Comment – the draft Framework refers to the Marine Policy Statement at paragraph 3.17. The environmental impacts that have been referred to are unlikely to constitute a mainstream type of developer contribution and it is therefore not proposed to include them in the Framework. However, that does not impact on the Council’s continuing responsibilities to apply the MPS where relevant to an application or to deal with those issues as part of the normal planning application process. Reference to the Marine Act and UK MPS will be made in the SEA. No change

There is no definition of the sphere of geographical impact of a development proposal

Comment – there are no generally prescribed rules around the extent of spatial impact of a development and the consequential requirement for contributions. Each case will be judged on its individual merits

No change

There is no link between developer contributions and regeneration

Comment – developer contributions can only be sought where they are required to make a development proposal acceptable and cannot be used to address existing deprivation or regeneration needs

No change

All developments contribute to increased use of greenhouse gasses, not just Major developments. GHGs that are emitted as part of the construction process should be off-set through tree planting.

Comment – tree planting is already included in the list of potential measures to mitigate the impact of development on air quality at paragraph 11.7 of the draft Framework

No change

Developers should consider the environmental impacts of their proposals at the outset. Developer contributions may be sought to manage the impacts

Agreed – the Framework advocates this approach as described in Chapter 16

No change
Queens University is a registered charity and when considering the requirement for developer contributions, the Council should be mindful of the higher education sector as a public service provider Comment – higher education establishments are not excluded from the requirement for developer contributions, where they are necessary. The impact of contributions on the viability of a scheme will be considered (Chapter 17 of the draft Framework) No change

“Highways” has been removed from the list of typical developer contributions at paragraph 5.5

Comment – contributions to highway improvements fall within the general ambit of “Sustainable Transport”

No change

The draft Framework no longer exempts certain types of development from developer contributions (e.g. schools)

Comment – noted

No change

Reference should be made to paragraph 3.8 of the SPPS in relation to the presumption in favour of sustainable development unless demonstrable harm to public interest

Agreed – this refers to an important premise of the planning system in Northern Ireland and will be included in Chapter 3 of the Framework

Included at par. 3.11

Chapter 6 – Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation

You said Response Final DCF

There should be a definitive standard for play equipment

Disagree – it is beyond the scope of the DCF to provide this level of detail and further detailed guidance around standards for play equipment may be provided by the Council in the future.

No change

Consideration should be given to topography as a constraint

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to topography

Included at par. 6.15

All residents should benefit from open space – apartments should not be exempt

Disagree – it is not within the scope of the DCF to change existing planning policy. Policy OS 2 of PPS 8 states that: ‘An exception to the requirement of providing public open space will be permitted in the case of apartment developments or specialised housing where a reasonable level of private communal open space is being provided.’

No change

Concerns about the reliability of management companies and how this can be addressed. Planning agreements are an unsuitable tool. Conditions should be used to secure future management of Public Open Space.

Disagree – planning agreements are generally the best available tool for securing future management of Public Open Space. The developer will be required to establish a management company. The risk of controlling future management through condition is that if the developer disposes of the land, the Council would have to enforce against each individual occupiers.

No change

Disagree with the value of the commuted sum which should be much higher (e.g. £150,000

Agree – an indicative value of the cost of developing 1 ha of Public Open Space was included in the draft DCF. On reflection, this approach is considered too broad. Until the Council brings forward specific guidance, calculations should be done on a case by case basis according to the specific circumstances (e.g. the requirements for city centre living apartments will likely be different from suburban housing). 

Included at par. 6.22

Questions whether the Council has the resources to manage new public open space

Agreed – there should be general presumption that developers will be responsible for managing new Public Open Space

No change

How will communal space be provided in the city centre? There should a collaborative approach between the Council, agencies and communities to provide new city centre Public Open Space

Comment – the Council will develop a long term strategy for the provision of green infrastructure in the city centre. In the interim, it is envisaged that developer contributions will be used to support existing or emerging projects. Alternatively, contributions could be used to support existing nearby infrastructure or the city’s strategic parks.

No change

There should be Public Open Space provision for new office developments

Disagree – existing planning policy does not support this.

No change

The Cultural Strategy should be referenced in the Framework

Agreed – reference will be included.

Included at par. 4.8

The Framework should include the policy reference whereby the Department will consider an exception to the requirement for a NEAP or LEAP where an equipped children’s play area eThe Belfast Open Space Strategy is expected to be adopted in November 2019 and will be a material consideration relevant to the assessment of planning applicationsxists within reasonable walking distance (generally around 400m) (par. 6.11)

Agreed – reference to this potential exception in Policy OS 2 of PPS 8 will be included.

Included at par. 6.11

The Belfast Open Space Strategy is un-adopted and should not be referenced

The Belfast Open Space Strategy is expected to be adopted in November 2019 and will be a material consideration relevant to the assessment of planning applications.

No change

Clarification should be provided as to how the commuted sum to cover the cost of the Council’s future management of Public Open Space is calculated

Comment – there is a presumption that Public Open Space will be managed by the developer. In exceptional circumstances where the Council will adopt the open space the value of the commuted sum will be calculated on a case by case basis in negotiation with the developer

No change

Greater clarity should be provided around the nature and types of Public Open Space facilities

Disagree – it is beyond the scope of the DCF to provide detailed new policy.

No change

The Framework should not prevent potential development of community facilities on Public Open Space

Comment – proposals to redevelop Public Open Space for alternative uses will be assessed on the individual merits having regard to Policy OS 1 of PPS8, the SPPS and other relevant policy

No change

Purpose Built Student Accommodation should be exempt from the requirement to deliver Public Open Space

Disagree – PBMSA is a form of housing that needs to be supported by Public Open Space in line with PPS8

No change

Concerns about delays in signing planning agreements

Comment – the Council has been improving its processes around planning agreements, encouraging applications to front-load by providing draft agreements earlier in the process. The Council is developing model planning agreements which will streamline the process.

No change

Chapter 7 – Local Neighbourhood Facilities

You said Response Final DCF

Lifetime cost of maintenance, management and insurance needs to be taken into account. Who will pay?

Comment – it will generally be unreasonable for a developer to pay the lifetime costs of a neighbourhood facility. However, paragraph 7.12 or the draft Framework states that a commuted Sum may also be required to support running costs whilst the facility is being established. The cost of maintenance, management and insurance will generally fall to the end user. For example, in the case of enhancements to an existing community building or provision of a new school.

No change

Facilities should be developed in consultation with communities to best respond to local need. Communities are well placed to advise what neighbourhood facilities are needed for their areas. This could be for either new or enhanced facilities

Comment – the nature of community engagement will depend upon the nature of the contribution. For example, if the contribution is towards a new school then the Department for Education will be best placed to detail the requirements. If the contribution is to support neighbourhood facilities brought forward through the Council’s physical programme then it is expected that the Property and Projects department will engage with communities as part of that process

No change

Schemes of 50 residential units or more should incorporate neighbourhood facilities otherwise they become face-less estates with no identity. It also generates unnecessary car movements and is unsustainable.

Comment – the Framework commits to considering the requirement for neighbourhood facilities for Major residential schemes, in part to address these very issues. The need for community facilities will be determined on a case by case basis and secured where appropriate and related and scale and kind to the proposed scheme.

No change

All neighbourhood facilities should be wholly and independently owned by the community

Disagree – this general statement will not be appropriate in all situations, for example, the provision of a neighbourhood shop

No change

There is no point in zoning land for community facilities if the funding is not in place for it

Comment – this is outside the scope of the Framework and a matter for the Local Development Plan process to consider

No change

Communities should be involved in Pre Application Discussions about community facilities

Comment – there is a statutory requirement for an applicant to consult with communities in advance of submitting a planning application for Major development. This provides a forum for discussion on developer contributions. Pre Application Discussions are normally commercially sensitive and confidentially

No change

Play facilities should be included in the list of neighbourhood facilities at paragraph 7.9

Disagree – the provision of play facilities falls under Chapter 6 Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation

No change

It should be made clearer when community facilities are required to support Major development

Comment – the requirement for neighbourhood facilities will be assessed on a case by case basis, having regard to community engagement as part of the Pre Application Notice process for Major applications and advice from the Council’s Physical Programme Officer

No change

At paragraph 7.13 it is unclear when a neighbourhood facility is going to be on-site or off-site

Comment – the presumption will be that the neighbourhood facility will be provided on site. However, there may be cases where the contribution is for an off-site facility, such as to support a new or existing school

No change

The burden of providing neighbourhood facilities should not always rest with the developers. Concerned that the cost to the developer will spiral out of control

Comment – the contribution may be to completely or partially fund a community facility, having regard to the specific circumstances of the case, including the potential to pool contributions. Contributions must always be proportionate and relate in scale and kind

No change

A joint management company will be required to support neighbourhood facilities straddling several different developments under different ownerships

Agreed – the specific requirements will be considered on a case by case basis. Obligations are binding on the land and each landowner would need to be a signatory of the planning agreement

No change

Chapter 8 – Public Realm

You said Response Final DCF

Financial contributions should be spent in the immediate area of the development

Comment – an outcome of the approach set out in the draft Framework is that contributions will generally be spent in the immediate area of the development. However, there should be flexibility to allow contributions to be required further field where there is a direct link to the proposal and it is necessary to mitigate its impacts.

No change

The contributions should be spent much earlier

Comment – the point at which contributions should be spent will be influenced by the trigger point at which payment is required and the timing of when the impacts of development will need to be managed or mitigated.

No change

Public realm improvements should incorporate high quality materials

Agreed – the quality of public realm proposals will be assessed as part of the planning application process in consultation with DfC and DfI

No change

There needs to be design coherence between different projects, particularly when side by side

Agreed – this is necessary to avoid a “patch work” approach to public realm. DfC is currently refreshing its public realm Design Code for the City. In the meantime, developers are asked to use materials consistent with those used for the Streets Ahead city centre public realm enhancement as a reference. Public realm proposals will also be subject to consultation with DfC and DfC to ensure consistency

No change

There should be a clearer definition of Major development to better understand the thresholds for when Developer Contributions may apply

Agreed – a hyper-link to the Development Management Regulations that contain the definition of Major development will be included

Included in Glossary at Appendix A

Paragraph 8.1 should also reference to “public safety considerations” (e.g. Hostile Vehicle Mitigation)

Disagree – par. 8.1 already makes reference to safety

No change

If developers are able to dispute the requirement for public realm contributions then the Framework should provide information on this. For example, if the developer refuses to extend the application red line to include upgrade of the footways immediately abutting the site

Comment – the presumption is that if an applicant declines to provide a contribution, which is otherwise deemed necessary to make the development acceptable, planning permission will be refused. The applicant may make an argument that the contribution would render the proposed development unviable (see Chapter 17)

No change

Concerns about making sure that utilities infrastructure is incorporated as part of public realm works

Comment – this is already referenced at paragraph 8.17 of the Framework

No change

Other developments that fall under the Major development threshold may also require public realm contributions

Agreed – the Framework already acknowledges as a principle that there may be circumstances whereby development falling below the recommended threshold attracts a requirement for developer contributions

No change

The legal system advises against the use of negatively worded (Grampian style) conditions to secure developer contributions

Disagree – the use of negatively worded conditions is established planning practice. Guidance on the use of conditions is provided by DfI Development Management Practice Note 20

No change

There should be a threshold whereby developer contributions are secured and pooled

Comment – there may be some circumstances where it is necessary to pool contributions to support a wider infrastructure project deemed necessary to make individual development proposals acceptable. However, the point at which these are required will depend upon the circumstances of the case and it is therefore inappropriate to set general thresholds.

No change

A balance must be struck between the public goal and ensuring development remains viable. Contributions should only be sought where they are required to mitigate footfall

Comment – contributions will be required where they are necessary to promote quality places and improve connectivity, having regard to increased footfall generated by the proposed development

No change

Consideration should be given to the effect of the Buick decision and the ability for civil servants to approve public realm schemes on public land, particularly larger projects

Comment – this is a matter for Government and is outside the scope of the Framework

No change

The Framework will need to be reviewed in the light of the adoption of the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy and Belfast Open Space Strategy

Agreed – it is expected that the Framework will be reviewed and refreshed following adoption of the Local Development Plan Strategy. This is made clear at paragraph 1.3 of the draft Framework

 

Paragraph 8.17 should be extended to include the requirement that contributions towards public realm will be considered in conjunction with requests towards highway improvements and the promotion [and improvement in connectivity] of sustainable transport [and travel]

Comment – the Framework will be amplified to include such reference

Included at par. 8.17

Belfast has poor cycle infrastructure. Segregated cycle lanes need to be built. Most new residential development lacks proper cycle facilities. Little adherence to connectivity including use of greenways and urban/rural wedges

Comment – enhancements to public realm should make allowance for cycle provision, where appropriate. It is expected that once adopted the new Local Development Plan Strategy will provide opportunity for a more coordinated approach to connectivity across the City, having regard to the Council’s Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan

No change

Paragraph 8.14 should include reference to community consultation. There should be engagement with communities to add value to the proposed development

Comment – there is a statutory requirement for developers to carry out community consultation in advance of submitting applications for Major development. The proposed public realm Catalyst projects include governance arrangements that provide for appropriate community engagement in the design process No change

Paragraph 8.17 should reference Creating Places which should be made mandatory

Comment – Chapter 3 references Creating Places. It is also referenced at par. 8.6 in the context of contributions towards public art

No change

Individual development proposals should integrate into broader masterplans and emerging agendas as part of a holistic approach

Comment – it is envisaged that future masterplans for the city will include appropriate reference to public realm improvements and ensure a holistic approach

No change

Ideas on public sculpture is opportunity to connect the public with public art

Agreed – public art as a form of public realm enhancement should be reinforced at paragraph 8.15 of the draft Framework, which lists various types of public realm works

Included at par. 8.15

Paragraph 8.22 should include reference to future management and maintenance. In many cases, private management cases have been very effective

Agreed – requirements around future management of public realm, whether on public or private land, will be amplified in the Framework

Included at par. 8.23

Public realm should be funded and provided by the Council

Disagree – the Council is not the responsible body for roads, streets or the public realm and does not have regeneration powers. However, it will work closely with Government to ensure that opportunities to improve public realm are maximised

No change

How will maintenance of green space be funded?

Comment – there is a presumption that developers will be responsible for managing new green spaces, normally by means of a management company secured by a planning agreement. The Framework will be amended to make this clear

Included at par. 8.24

Paragraph 8.17 should possibly include reference to coordination to eliminate works/excavations by others shortly after public realm works are completed (e.g. NISRANS)

Agreed – the Framework will reinforce this point

Included at par. 8.17

Paragraph 8.22 should possibly be elaborated in relation to payments towards future management and maintenance of public realm and the supply/storage of materials i.e. kerbs/flags for remedial works

Agreed – reference will be made to the potential requirement for developers to contribute to the ongoing maintenance of public realm on publicly adopted land such as adopted highways Included at par. 8.20

Chapter 9 – Economic Development Uses

You said Response Final DCF

How will contributions be monitored?

Comment – employability and skills contributions will be monitored by the planning service with supported from the Economic Development Unit

No change

Contributions should be provided in areas of significant deprivation

Disagree – the rationale for securing developer contributions for employability skills is that they are necessary to address a skills shortage in implementing the proposed development or to counter the loss of employment land only. They cannot be used to mitigate existing economic deprivation

No change

Table 4 should refer to ‘Development proposals resulting in the loss of economic development and employment generating uses’ to ensure consistency in language

Disagree – the Framework uses the terminology in Policy PED 7 of PPS 4 (“economic development uses”)

No change

Developers should not use contributions as a pretext or some form of leverage to advocate building on zoned or protected employment land

Comment – this point is already dealt with in paragraph 9.15 of the Framework

No change

Land that was historically in employment use may no longer be suitable and this should be reviewed

Comment – this is not a matter for the Framework but the LDP process

No change

The property market is fragile and there is concern about adding to developers’ costs

Comment – refer to Chapter 17 on Viability

No change

Local community groups are well placed to advise on local training needs, education facilities and services.

Comment – the requirement is for the contribution to address a skills shortage in implementation of the proposed development, not to address a community need. The Economic Development Unit will assess the acceptability of the developer’s proposed Employability and Skills Plan having regard to the Council’s Inclusive Growth Strategy. No change

Contributions should be used to support community enterprises and social economy sector. The social economy sector and local communities should be engaged in the process of identifying contributions to address disadvantage

Comment – the purpose of contributions is not to address disadvantage rather to address skills shortages and/or loss of employment land. Through Local Government Reform, the Council has enhanced local economic development powers and functions to support social entrepreneurship. The Council is developing a pipeline of business support aimed at supporting social enterprises and co-operatives.

No change

There is scope for the construction industry to take on apprenticeships and social enterprise, but this shouldn’t necessarily be as a result of a planning agreement

Disagree – in the context of the planning process, the Framework advocates the need for developer contributions to address skills shortages and to counter the loss of employment land. It is acknowledged that there are other mechanisms that fall outside planning that the developer may wish to avail of around these issues including the Apprenticeship programme and existing social enterprise support offered through local councils.

No change

Very often the loss of previous employment land involves vacant sites and so employees won’t be displaced. Contributions should not be a standard request when the policy requirements of PPS 4 are already met

Comment – in situations where there are vacant buildings, the council will take account of proposals to help mitigate the loss of employment land through linkages to employability and skills programmes. Planning applications will be assessed on their merits having regard to PPS 4.

No change
Contributions should be limited to the construction stage only and only apprenticeships relevant to the development should be secured. Contributions relating to occupation are likely to hamper lets Disagree – the Framework establishes the principle that if there is a skills shortage that would hinder occupation of a proposed development this would be inherently sustainable. The Economic Development Unit will assess whether there would be skills shortage for Major development and advise whether any shortage would affect feasibility. The employment market is not currently in equilibrium, therefore, interventions may be required.  No change

Where employment land is lost the Council should consider making additional provisional elsewhere

Disagree – it is not the role of the Council to provide alternative employment land. This would be a matter for Government Departments

No change

The Framework should make more mention of service provision, education, training and support for social enterprises

Agree – the Framework will be amended to include examples of employability and skills measures such as education, training and skills provisions

Included at par. 9.22

Contributions should be used in the local neighbourhoods to the development rather than city-wide and should be tailored to meet the requirements of local communities

Disagree – the rationale for securing developer contributions for employability skills is that they are necessary to address a skills shortage in implementing the proposed development or to counter the loss of employment land. Interventions may be city-wide or localised depending on the circumstances of the case.  No change

Chapter 10 – Sustainable Transport

You said Response Final DCF

Cycle paths should be mandatory as part of any Major development

Comment – cycle paths will be included in developments where they are deemed necessary (e.g. a strategic Major housing development). They will not always be relevant e.g. cycle paths could not realistically be incorporated into a city centre office or hotel development. The provision of cycle paths across the city is also a strategic issue for DfI in partnership with the Council

No change

Conditions may be an inappropriate mechanism to secure contributions. Planning agreements can be more robust and more suited to multi-lateral agreements requiring sign up by a range of different parties such as landowners, service providers and the city’s transport department

Comment – the use of conditions or planning agreements will depend upon the circumstances of the case. The Framework will be amplified to make it clear when conditions are normally used and when a planning agreement is required

Included at pars. 2.7 – 2.9

Consideration should be given to the Buick judgement, the role of civil servant and the impact of this on timely decision making

Comment – this is outside the scope of Framework and is a matter for Government

No change

Use of the term “infrastructure” is inappropriate when referring to services or travel cards and is misleading

Agreed – the terminology will be adjusted to include reference to “measures”

Included in Chapter 10

In Appendix A (Glossary) there is no reference to public transport under Infrastructure. A definition of either Transport Infrastructure or Sustainable Transport is needed

Comment – this is considered unnecessary as this point is sufficient dealt with in Chapter 10

No change

Paragraph 10.5 – clarification is needed as to whether Planning Policy Statement 13 will remain a material consideration and whether planning conditions may still be used to secure public transport infrastructure and services

Comment – PPS13 remains a material consideration under the transitional arrangements. The Framework will be amplified to make it clear which types of transport obligations may be secured by condition and which by means of a planning agreement.

Included at par. 10.16

Paragraph 10.7 – Translink should be included in the list of contacts for the applicant to engage with

Agreed – reference will be made to Translink

Included at par. 10.7

The Council should pro-actively monitor conditions and planning agreements securing transport obligations

Comment – obligations secured through planning agreements will be actively monitored by the Council’s Monitoring Officer.

No change

Paragraph 10.15 – additional wording is recommended: ‘…sustainable transport improvements…’ and ‘…additional payments may also be required towards future management and maintenance [and promotion] of sustainable transport.’

Agreed – reference will be made to these additional requirements in the Framework

Included at par. 10.16

Table 6 should include community greenways, urban and rural landscape wedges, all radiating from the outer fringes into the city centre like the spokes of a wheel

Agreed – reference will be made to the opportunity to improve connectivity across the city by these means. It is envisaged that the Council will have greater scope to secure these benefits on adoption of the Local Development Plan Strategy and Green and Blue Infrastructure Plan

Included at Table 6

The Department missed an opportunity with the Glider for all-electric public transport

Comment – this is beyond the scope of the Framework and a Government policy issue

No change

Regarding Tables 5 and 7, the need for developer contributions is identified as part of the Transport Assessment or Travel Plan supporting the application

Comment – the need for developer contributions is often informed by the applicant’s Transport Assessment or Green Travel Plan, but may also be a policy requirement

No change

Businesses should be encouraged to provide and implement Green Travel Plans

Comment – it is standard policy requirement for proposals for larger commercial development to be supported by a Travel Plan

No change

The outdated parking standards applied to development proposals runs counter to the Framework’s objective of maximising a modal shift away from car usage

Disagree – the parking standards work in tandem with the aims of the Framework and planning policy that encourages more sustainable modes of transport. The Council is open to considering proposals for reduced parking standard if off-set by sustainable transport measures such as travel plans, travel cards and car clubs

No change
Table 6 – add ‘new or improved sightlines’

Agreed – this will be included

Included at Table 6

Paragraphs 10.10 – 10.12 – please refer to the NI Transport Assessment Guidelines

Comment – the guidance is already referenced at footnote 14 of page 41 of the draft Framework

No change

Paragraphs 10.13 – refer to a TAF alongside or instead of Transport Statements

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to make reference to the Transport Assessment Form (TAF) instead of Transport Statement

Included at par. 10.13

Paragraphs 10.14 – query the inclusion of this statement. The Highways Act does not apply in Northern Ireland. The Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993 applies. DfI Roads prefers a developer to undertake the works

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to reflect these comments

Included at par. 10.14

Paragraphs 10.15 – a travel plan is a live document for use throughout the life of a development

Agreed – reference will be added to the fact that Travel Plans must generally be operational for the duration of the development

Included at Table 6

Chapter 11 – Air Quality

You said Response Final DCF

Why is there not a threshold in respect of requiring developments to manage or mitigate the impacts of the proposal on air quality?

Comment – the Council’s Environmental Health team will advise on the need to manage or mitigate air quality on a case by case basis

No change

Does the Council have an Air Quality Monitoring system in place to establish an air quality baseline? Developers should be expected to contribute to this model. Ambient air quality monitoring technology and a smart-city approach is needed to allow data to be shared

Comment – as above.

No change

Air quality stations should be provided on all new builds

Comment – this is considered unnecessary and goes beyond the scope of the Framework

No change

Paragraph 11.7 - funding towards public transport should be included in the list of potential mitigation measures

Comment – this is already included in bullet 2 of paragraph 11.7

No change

There should be a green levy mileage scheme with a target of 1 million trees for the city

Comment – this is outside the scope of the Framework

No change

Contributions should be held at Departmental level and cross subsidised by the developer through ongoing rates

Comment – this is outside the scope of the Framework

No change

Any development that has the potential to have negative impacts on air quality must provide mitigation

Comment – any necessary mitigation will be informed by the applicant’s Air Quality Impact Assessment and advice from the Council’s Environmental Health team

No change


 

Chapter 12 – Flood Risk and Sustainable Drainage

You said Response Final DCF

Table 9 should include ‘Development that requires management of fluvial, alluvial, pluvial and surface water flood risk including alleviation, adaption, and drainage and/or attenuation infrastructure’

Disagree – the current wording of Table 9 is simpler and considered sufficient

No change

The requirement for SuDS and the sustainable management of waste water, water run off should be applied proportionately to any development that increases hard surfaces and roof areas

Agreed – development proposals and their resulting requirements will be assessed in consultation with DFI Rivers and other relevant consultees

No change

DfI is unsure how the Council intends to include sewerage related improvements within planning agreements. It may be unrealistic to seek contributions to deliver large sewerage infrastructure projects such as those needed to underpin current growth projects for Belfast. This potentially sizeable additional expense could render schemes unviable. The burden for infrastructure should not rest solely with government and the tax payer

Comment – it is beyond the scope of this Framework to introduce a policy requirement that all new development should contribute to and address the city’s sewerage capacity issues. This is a regional strategic matter

No change

No reference is made to water quality which is an important omission. Development that impacts on groundwater and surface water resources should be referenced in this chapter or a new separate chapter

Comment – water quality is an issue that will be addressed as part of the planning application process and it is unlikely that developer contributions will be an appropriate tool to deal with it

No change

Contributions should be used towards new tree planting as a method of reducing flooding and carbon emissions

Comment – the Council will consider mitigation proposals on their merits having regard to advice from DfI Rivers and other consultees

No change

Paragraph 12.9 – who will manage SuDS? Until management responsibilities are resolved it will not be practicable to receive contributions towards this

Comment – the developer will generally be responsible for managing SuDs infrastructure incorporated into their development schemes and this would be secured by means of a planning agreement. The Framework will be amended to make this clear Included at par. 12.9

Chapter 13 – Natural Heritage

You said Response Final DCF

Coastal Protection Zones and Marine Protection Zones appear to have been omitted

Comment – the Framework’s reference to the UK Marine Policy Statement is considered sufficient 

No change

It is important that developer contributions are not to be used as a means through which operational planning policies of [Planning Policy Statement 2] can be overridden

Agree – paragraph 13.9 of the draft Framework makes it clear that developer contributions are not a means to circumvent policy requirements relating to natural heritage

No change

Consideration should be given to the variety of public good which natural heritage sites may provide and the available alternative sites for these benefits if land is lost for development

Comment – the impacts of development proposals on natural heritage will be considered on a case by case basis. There may be exceptional circumstances where the benefits of a development proposal are considered to outweigh the value of the natural heritage assets. The Framework acknowledges that there could be scenarios where biodiversity off-setting is required on third party land and the Framework.

No change

Paragraph 13.4 – disagree with this statement. Too many woodlands and other natural habitats/open spaces are being lost to football pitches etc. which communities are very often barred from. Councils too often prioritise formalised recreation over natural heritage assets

Disagree – paragraph 13.4 is reflection of PPS 2. There may be exceptional circumstances where the benefits of a development proposal are considered to outweigh the value of the natural heritage assets.

No change

Local communities should be able to use developer contributions to employ their own ecologists, landscape architects and planning consultants to monitor, evaluate and improve their local biodiversity. This would help off-set the advantages that developers have to can employ their own environmental consultants

Disagree – it is the role of the Council as Planning Authority to manage new development, including its impact on natural heritage, in consultation with statutory consultees who provide specialist advice on ecological issues, and communities.

No change

Paragraph 13.8 – who are the partners? Belfast Hills Partnership should be on such partner

Comment – ‘other partners’ includes other relevant statutory and non-statutory consultees in the planning process

No change

Paragraph 13.12 – serious concerns about the use of management companies. Management would be better undertaken by a public or nature conservation body

Comment – potential management arrangements will be decided on a case by case basis having regard to advice from Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other relevant partners. The Council will ensure that whatever management arrangements are put in place are fit for purpose

No change

Impacts on the natural environment should be managed by the planning application process rather than an addition to the development itself

Comment – planning applications will need to satisfy the planning policy requirements and it is envisaged that developer contributions will only be applied in exceptional circumstances

No change

If a developer wishes to proceed against advice from the Planning Authority, an Environmental Statement is necessary to examine mitigation measures. If necessary this could take the form of a financial contribution with no option for viability reductions

Comment – the requirement or otherwise for an Environmental Statement is provided for under the Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

No change

Tree planning along the main arterial routes in the city should be part of an integrated green infrastructure

Comment – this is a strategic policy issue beyond the scope of the Framework. The Framework provides guidance on how developer contributions are secured through the planning application process.

No change

Any development that impacts on biodiversity in even a small way must include measures to mitigate or compensate where the site has significant natural heritage value. There must be clear evidence of exceptional need before it can even be considered to proceed

Comment – planning applications will be fully assessed in the context of PPS 2 and having regard to advice from consultees. Mitigation will be proportionate and will reflect what is required to make new development acceptable.

No change

Chapter 14 – Planning, Archaeology and Built Heritage

You said Response Final DCF

This needs to be co-ordinated under the same department i.e. planning

Comment – the apportionment of planning powers and the relationship of government and local government insofar as built heritage issues is beyond the scope of this Framework

No change

“Public benefit” needs to consider the benefit of people now as well as future generations

Comment – the public benefit of enabling works will be considered on a case by case basis having regard to the relevant policies, advice from consultees and engagement with communities

No change

Engagement programmes should be encouraged, especially if there is loss of heritage

Comment – the Council will follow the statutory requirements around consultation and engagement, as set out in legislation and its Statement of Community Involvement

No change

Reference should be made to the legislative duties in respect of heritage assets. The policy context section should be restructured accordingly. Statutory and non-statutory designations should be distinguished

Disagree – it is considered unnecessary to make reference to Sections 91(2) and 104(11) of the Act since these apply to all Listed Building applications and applications for development in a Conservation Area respectively, and are not specific to developer contributions.

No change

Paragraphs 14.6 and 14.7 – reference should be made to archaeological and historic recording of designated heritage buildings. Potential contributions to updating conservation area appraisals and management plans

Comment – reference will be made to the monitoring of heritage assets where required. Developer contributions are aimed at ensuring appropriate infrastructure is available for new development, or to mitigate environmental impacts. It would be inappropriate to use them to fund updated conservation area appraisals and management plans. When considering applications that impact on a Conservation Area, developers are required to provide a statement which describes the Conservation Area and the impacts.  

Enabling development is critical to the preservation of landmark architecture where development on its own merits may not necessarily be permitted

Comment – the Framework makes reference to enabling development in a built heritage context. Specific reference to PPS 23: Enabling Development for the Conservation of Significant Places will be included

No change

Contributions related to archaeological remains or our historic built environment should be focused on public interest preservation as well as public education to ensure that local people appreciate the character of the environment their surrounding by

Agreed– the requirement to make archaeological remains accessible to the public will be considered by case basis having regard to advice from DfC. Paragraph 14.20 of the Framework already Framework makes reference to the provision of interpretation boards to help the public understand the significance of heritage assets will normally be secured by a planning condition, where appropriate. Requirement

Included at par. 4.19

Prefers the phrase “historic environment” over “archaeology and built heritage”, which better aligns with the Belfast draft Plan Strategy. It also better reflects the full suite of heritage assets

Comment – the Framework refers to ‘Planning, Archaeology and the Built Environment’ because this is consistent with the language in PPS 6, which provides the existing planning policy context. When the Framework is reviewed and refreshed following adoption of the Belfast Plan Strategy, it will be necessary for terminology in the Framework to be amended in line with the phraseology in the Plan Strategy

No change

Reference should be made to PPS 23: Enabling Development for the Conservation of Significant Places

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to PPS 23

Included in Chapter 14

Paragraph 14.7 – should refer to condition (singular) rather than conditions

Agreed – the Framework will be corrected

Included at par. 14.7

Table 11 is incorrectly titled and should read ‘Archaeology and the built heritage’ (or preferably historic environment)

Agreed – the Framework will be corrected

Included at Table 11

Strongly believe that this should be managed through the planning application process rather than addition to the development itself

Comment – the Framework is reflective of planning policy requirements. Securing enabling works by means of a Section 76 planning agreement is part of the application process No change

Chapter 15 - Waste management

You said Response Final DCF

Developer contributions should be used to minimise single use plastic items and encouraging reed bed filtration systems

Disagree – this is outside the scope of the Framework

No change

Waste management should be managed as part of the planning application process  rather than as an addition through developer contributions

Comment – waste management requirements will be considered as part of the assessment of individual planning applications. The Framework recognises that there will be circumstances where developer contributions are required to ensure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to support the proposed development, or to mitigate its environmental effects

No change

Food disposal units should be mandatory to any residential and commercial development reducing local environmental impact

Comment – this is outside the scope of the Framework.

No change

Consultation with the community before a PAN meeting with the planners to discuss innovative solutions to reduce costs, promote transport sustainability and minimise impact

Comment – the Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) process requires developers to engage with local communities before they submit a Major planning application. This provides a forum for communities raising  range of issues including waste management

No change

The Framework does not address developer contributions associated with the restoration and after use of waste management facilities. This often requires remediation works and potentially long term monitoring for which developer contributions needs to be considered

Comment – restoration and after use requirements are very specific to minerals and waste applications and are not a mainstream form of developer contributions that warrants inclusion in the Framework. Instead these specific requirements should be dealt with on a case by case basis having regard to advice from technical consultees.

No change

Developer contributions should be used to ensure a more comprehensive and coherent system of commercial waste management

Comment – on-site infrastructure requirements are dealt with through normal planning process. The Council provides a charged service for commercial waste. Domestic waste is collected by the Council the charge for which is included in the rates. These wider waste management provisions fall outside the planning system.  Developer contributions will be used where appropriate to ensure effective provision of waste management infrastructure required to support new development, having regard to advice from the Council’s Waste Management team.

No change

Developer contributions should be used to make sure that waste management in residential development is optimised, particular for apartment blocks and high density development

Comment – as above, this is managed through the planning application process

No change

Developer contributions should be used to improve waste infrastructure within the city where it is deemed a development would add additional pressures to the system

Comment – developer contributions will be used where appropriate to ensure effective provision of waste management infrastructure required to support new development, having regard to advice from the Waste Management team

No change

Developer contributions should not be used to ‘pay’ for pollution

Comment – the ‘general principles’ section of the Framework clarifies this point  No change

Chapter 16 – The Planning Application Process

You said Response Final DCF
The Council may wish to include in the Framework the process whereby a developer can apply to have contributions refunded where not spent within 5 years on the matters agreed or not spent at all

Comment – some pre-existing planning agreements include a clause whereby the developer may apply for the financial contribution to be returned if not spent within 7 years. This is specific to those planning agreements and it is considered unnecessary to refer to this in the Framework

No change

Chapter 17 – Viability

You said Response Final DCF

The Council will need to demonstrate consistency in its approach to viability. What factors are considered when deciding on the appropriate level of contributions?

Comment – it is proposed that Viability Appraisals will be independently assessed. The factors that will be taken into account when deciding the level of contributions is set out in the Framework

No change

There is an appeals process in place

Comment – the Framework will be a material consideration and the PAC will need to take it into account when determining appeals within Belfast

No change

Developer contributions and planning agreements could deter houses where they are needed

Comment – the Framework is based on existing regional planning policy and land values should reflect that. The Framework provides allowance for viability and therefore the Council’s approach should not deter development

No change

Paragraph 17.5 – staged payments could be triggered by a time event or when an event occurs (e.g. once a percentage of residential development is occupied)

Agreed – there is scope for the trigger to be events based. The Council will use the most appropriate trigger point having regard to the specific circumstances of the case

No change

Planning application decisions, appeals and court decisions rely on the Financial Viability in Planning Guidance Note (2012). This guidance advocates an approach based on market value, with an assumption that regard will be had to planning policy

Comment – the Council will ensure that it has regard to best practice when it assesses viability.

No change

Concerned that viability may be used to drive down the cost of materials and that the design quality of schemes may suffer, particularly those with a built heritage context. Further clarity is required around these negative impacts

Comment – the intention of paragraph 17.3 of the Framework is for developers to demonstrate reasonable and not over-inflated costs. The Council is not advocating the “dumbing down” of the design quality of schemes such as through the use of cheaper materials. This point will be reinforced in the Framework.

Included at par. 17.3

Concerns that developer contributions will render schemes unviable with the result that development will not occur. This is not the time in the market to introduce developer contributions. Many schemes are unviable even without developer contributions

Disagree – developer contributions are already an established requirement under existing regional planning policy. The Framework ensures that the viability of schemes is properly taken into account. The Council has been securing contributions since 2016 through agreement with developers which of itself demonstrate that Developer Contributions are not a significant impediment to new development

No change

Concerns about how financial contributions are calculated, which leads to uncertainty

Comment – contributions are impact based and no two cases will be precisely the same. Moreover, the policy requirement is normally for developers to provide in-kind contributions. There is no levy approach to contributions and it is not possible for the Framework to provide a costs schedule that gives a precise indication of the value of a contribution according to the type and quantum of development proposed

No change

Developer contributions should be enforced

Agreed – it is important that developer contributions are monitored and appropriately enforced. The Council is recruiting a dedicated member of staff to support the monitoring and enforcement of planning agreements

No change

If developer contributions cannot be met in full for viability reasons, there should be a mechanism to re-assess the ability for a scheme to provide contributions when market conditions have improved

Agreed – where contributions are not met in full, planning agreements will include a clause which requires the contribution to be reviewed at set point/s in the future and reassessed in the light of changes to the market. This approach is already included in the Framework at paragraph 7.5, however, it should be reinforced. The provision for a review will be included in the Council’s model planning agreements 

Included at par. 7.5

Table 13 should be amended to include the impact of delays to a project on the cost of finance

Disagree – the purpose of the table is to illustrate the basic principles of viability and inclusion of this element would represent too much detail

No change

There should be more in depth examination of the types of developer and the types of property to understand the development constraints affecting viability. The Scottish Government has published information on how developers and developments are affected by market conditions

Comment – the Council will ensure that it has regard to best practice when it assesses viability

No change

Viability appraisals should be objective and based on industry standards

Comment – the Council will ensure that it has regard to best practice when it assesses viability. The Framework will be amended to make this clear

Included at. Par. 7.4

Concerned about the definition of the “competitive return” that a developer will expect to see from their development and this might be widely open to interpretation. The use of this definition in England has resulted in a 70% drop off in affordable housing contributions. Suggest that the definition is changes to “positive return”

Comment – the Council will ensure that it has regard to reasonable and realistic levels of profit, which will take account the specific market conditions of Belfast.

No change

There is need for new legislation for a more open, transparent and accessible method for calculating developer contributions e.g. the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) use in England. This will also provide greater certainty for all stakeholders

Comment – it is beyond the scope of the Framework to introduce new legislation or a different regulatory approach to developer contributions such as CIL

No change

Consideration should be given to the use of developer contributions to mitigate the negative impact that development may have on adjacent property

Comment – the Framework states that developer contributions will be sought to either secure infrastructure or mitigate the impacts of development on the environment. Each case will be judged on its individual merits

No change
Concerns that the Council may not have the necessary expertise or skills to assess Viability Appraisals submitted by an developer

Comment – Viability Appraisals are not likely to be assessed in-house for this very reason. The Council is considering various options for independent assessment of Viability Statements, such as the use of Land and Property Services (LPS) or procuring outside consultants

No change

General comments

You said Response Final DCF

A matrix would be helpful to show what the developer is paying for and over time

Comment – given the range of contributions and the large number of variables this is impractical. It is also considered unnecessary. The Council is expected to publish an Annual Monitoring Report which will set out what contributions have been collected and for what, what has been spent and on what, and what remains to be spent

No change

Concerns that developer contributions could deter new development from taking place, particularly smaller developments. Concerned that the Belfast market cannot support developer contributions

Disagree – developer contributions are already an established requirement under existing regional planning policy. The Framework ensures that the viability of schemes is properly taken into account. The Council has been securing contributions since 2016 through agreement with developers which of itself demonstrate that Developer Contributions are not a significant impediment to new development

No change

The process for securing developer contributions needs to be proportionate to the planning gains and not become overly bureaucratic or costly to administer

Agreed – it is important that there is a quick and efficient system for securing developer contributions. The Framework advocates the front-loading of the process including pre-application enragement and identifying the requirement for contributions early. The Council is to publish model planning agreements which will help applicants to submit a draft agreement with their planning application

 

Other UK cities have been innovative in designating developer contributions to develop and support the arts, culture and creative industries infrastructure. There is only mention of “public art” in the Framework

Comment – existing regional planning policy does not support the widespread use of developer contributions towards the arts, culture and creative industries over and above public art

No change

Developer contributions should be used to address “planning blight” and the dereliction caused as a result of the planning process (e.g. decorative treatments of hoardings lighting pop-up uses of spaces)

Disagree – contributions are not normally required for this purpose. The impact of new development on neighbouring property will be considered as part of the planning application process.

No change

Developer contributions should be held within an alternative funding body to ensure speed of delivery. There should be a cross departmental committee through statutory agencies to identify appropriate weighting for each proposed development and localised priorities

The Council is finalising governance arrangements for spending developer contributions.  

No change

Developers will prioritise developer contributions over voluntary community benefits

Comment – unlike community benefits which are voluntary, developer contributions are a policy requirement under the planning application process. The Council, as Planning Authority, will therefore prioritise developer contributions over community benefits.  

No change

Concerns about transparency – where is the money that has been collected actually going? There should be transparency in how contributions are negotiated

Comment – to ensure transparency, the Council will publish an Annual Monitoring Report which will set out what contributions have been collected and for what purpose, what has been spent and what remains to be spent

No change

Concerns about accountability. Communities should be able to see planning agreements. There should be an Annual Monitoring Report. Alternatively, information should be provided on a quarterly basis

Agree – as stated above, the Council will publish an Annual Monitoring Report. Planning agreements are public documents and are included on the public register and planning application file. The Council will ensure that copies of completed agreements are available on the Planning Portal.

No change

Developer contributions should fund a participatory budgeting programme in specific communities

Disagree – developer contributions can only be used to address the impacts of new development and cannot be used to resolve pre-existing community needs No change

An approach similar to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in England should be introduced. There, 25% of funds are assigned to communities or neighbourhood plans

Comment – it is outside the scope of the Framework to introduce new legislation or a new regulatory approach to developer contributions

No change

There should be more involvement with communities around how contributions are calculated or set, what they should be for and how they should spent. For example, communities could make requests through the Planning Portal. Developers should be required to engage with communities around developer contributions at the pre-application stage and should include their findings in their Pre Application Community Consultation Report (required for Major applications).

Comment – the purpose of developer contributions is to address the impact of new development. Communities will be able to raise developer contributions as part of the statutory pre-application engagement process for Major planning applications and raise potential uses through responses to planning applications

No change

Developer contributions should benefit communities in the immediate area. Alternatively they should benefit communities across the city. Contributions should be used to address disadvantage

Comment – developer contributions are used to mitigate the impact of new development, and cannot be used to address community disadvantage

No change

The Framework should require applicants to set out how their proposals impact on nearby settled communities. Community consultation should be required on such impacts and how developer contributions might mitigate impacts. The Council should engage with affected communities

Comment – consideration of the impacts of new development on local communities forms part of the normal planning application process and is not specific to the Framework or developer contributions

No change

The Framework should be reviewed once the Belfast Local Plan Strategy is adopted

Agreed – the Framework will be reviewed and refreshed following adoption of the Plan Strategy

No change

Paragraph 5.2 – reference should also be made to early engagement with relevant statutory consultees

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to early engagement with statutory consultees as part of the Pre-Application Discussion process, or outside it

Included at par. 5.2

Paragraph 5.5 – the Framework does not make reference to land contamination and remediation. This should also reflect trans council boundary issues. Related definitions to be added to the Glossary

Disagree – land contamination is dealt with as a part of the planning application process. Remediation of contaminated land is not considered to be a form of developer contribution

No change

Paragraph 5.5 – there is no section on water quality

Comment – water quality is dealt with as a part of the planning application process. It is not considered to be a form of developer contribution

No change

Chapter 11 – has the EMFG Air and Environmental Quality Unit reviewed this chapter?

Comment – the Framework has been reviewed by DAERA and the Council’s Environmental Health team

No change

Paragraph 15.2 – the last line of page 54 should read: ‘conflicts with the principle of sustainable development and the European Waste Hierarchy’

Comment – reference should be made to the European Waste Hierarchy.

Included at par. 15.2

Paragraph 15.8 – no mention is made of contributions towards the restoration of waste management sites for agreed after uses and long term monitoring

Comment – these are not considered a mainstream form of developer contribution and should not be included in the Framework

No change

Chapter 15 – there should be early engagement with Northern Ireland Environment Agency as well as council

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to early engagement with NIEA

Included at par. 15.9

Should use the definition ‘Planning Authority’ instead of Planning Service (being the former DoE title)

Comment – reference to ‘Planning Service’ in the Framework refers to the Council’s planning service. To avoid potential confusion with the former regional Planning Service, the Council’s planning service will be referred to in lower case

Included in Framework

Paragraph 15.5 – reference to be made the licensing/permit requirements for most if not all waste management facilities

Disagree – paragraph 15.5 of the Framework refers to paragraph 6.310 of the SPPS, which does not include reference to licensing/permits

No change

Chapter 16 – this does not seem to reflect the statutory consultee process which can in some cases result in planning permission being refused

Comment – it is not considered necessary to refer to refused applications since contributions are only secured where permission is granted

No change

Appendix C – there is no mention of land contamination including the impact that costs associated with remediating land can have on development

Disagree – land contamination would fall under ‘Abnormal costs’ under section 3 (‘Development Costs’) of the Viability Appraisal Checklist

No change

Paragraph 2.4 – the text needs to be amended to reference situations where the visual amenity of the wider area can be affected by development

Disagree – paragraph 2.4 of the Framework directly quotes 5.67 of the SPPS which does not include reference to visual amenity

No change

Paragraph 2.5 – there should be an expectation that developer contributions will be “in kind” where possible

Comment– paragraph 2.6 of the Framework will be amended to state that in kind contributions will be the default in most cases

Included at par. 2.6

Chapter 13 – the impact of development on landscape character should also be referenced

Disagree – the visual impact of new development, including impact on the landscape, forms part of the normal assessment of a planning application and developer contributions are not generally used to provide mitigation

No change

Paragraph 13.6 – the text should be extended to include other landscape designations such as the Lagan Valley Regional Park and the hills surrounding Belfast, which are designated an Area of High Scenic Value in draft BMAP

Disagree – paragraph 13.6 references Policy ENV1 of BMAP which specifically refers to Local Landscape Policy Areas

No change

The NIEA Biodiversity Checklist has been misrepresented. It is only intended to filter out cases where DAERA does not need to be consulted. It is misleading to state that this will inform developer contributions

Agreed – the Framework will be amended so that the definition of the Biodiversity Checklist reflects the wording of DAERA’s guidance.

Included at par. 13.7

Developer contributions should never be used as compensation for lost biodiversity, as otherwise indicated in Table 10. The Mitigation Hierarchy should be followed – Avoidance; Mitigation; Compensation; Enforcement

Disagree – developer contributions may be used to secure “compensatory measures”, either secured through conditions or a planning agreement, as referenced in Policies NH1, NH2, NH3, NH4 and NH5 of PPS2

No change

Recommend adherence to BS 42020:2013 for the protection of biodiversity in planning and enforcement

Comment – BS 42020:2013 does not specifically deal with developer contributions and therefore reference to it in the Framework is not considered essential

No change

The Framework does not include contributions towards affordable housing, despite the reference to PPS 12 Housing in Settlements, the SPPS and Development Management Practice Note 21 Section 76 Planning Agreements, which states that planning agreements can be used to secure a proportion of affordable housing where there is need. A dedicated section on housing would be useful, including addressing housing need

Further clarity is required around ‘community benefits’

Comment – it is expected that contributions towards affordable housing will become a mainstream requirement on adoption of the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy. The current policy framework does not support the routine requirement for affordable housing to be provided as part of larger residential developments

No change

Distinction between ‘developer bonds’ and ‘developer contributions’ should be included

Comment – a developer bond is paid to the Council or a Department to cover the cost of a planning obligation if the developer defaults and never provides it. It is considered unnecessary to include this definition in the Framework

No change

There needs to be greater political involvement in deciding how developer contributions are spent

Comment – planning agreements are by their nature prescriptive as to what they secure, and in turn how they can be spent. Under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation, the Planning Committee has political oversight of all financial contributions of a value of or greater than £30k. The Council is finalising the governance arrangements for spending contributions

No change

Concerned that there will be a plethora of planning applications before the Framework is adopted to avoid the need to make developer contributions

Comment – the Framework simply reflects existing regional planning policy requirements around developer contributions. Where the Framework advocates a new approach in some areas, such as the in-kind provision of public realm, the Council is already applying this requirement consistent with its interpretation of existing planning policy

No change

Developer contributions should be used to support affordable housing and addressing human rights and equality concerns. Regard should be had to the requirements under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act

Comment – as mentioned previously, affordable housing is expected to become a mainstream developer contribution on adoption of the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy. The Framework has been prepared in accordance with the Council’s statutory obligations under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998

No change

Cautions against the use of developer contributions for public sector developments where wider societal benefits are the driving force rather than profit. In addition, such additional costs can impact on project deliverability

Comment – the Framework purposefully does not exclude certain development types from having to make developer contributions. This is on the basis that planning impacts, including ensuring that appropriate infrastructure is in place to support new development, should apply to all forms of development. It would also be difficult to quantify the “societal benefits” of particular forms of development and determine which should attract developer contributions and which should not

No change

The Framework should be consistent with and support regional planning policy. It should not create new policy

Agreed – it is recognised that the Council cannot create new planning policy at this time and that this can only be done through the new Belfast Local Development Plan. The Framework provides the Council’s interpretation of existing regional policy relating to developer contributions

No change

Planning agreements may not be best suited to securing regional scale infrastructure

Comment – developer contributions will generally be used to secure local infrastructure and infrastructure requirements identified through Key Site Requirements

No change

Further engagement should take place with statutory authorities in relation to matters such as economic development, transport and waste management to understand the feasibility of the approach

Comment – the Framework has been subject to rigorous public scrutiny including consultation with Government Departments that cover these areas

No change

The Framework would benefit from greater clarity around its relationship to the Belfast draft Plan Strategy. For example, the Framework does not address Policy HOU5. The inclusion of affordable housing within the Framework would help clarify this aspect of the draft Plan Strategy

Comment – as mentioned, the Framework provides the Council’s interpretation of existing regional planning policy. It is not based on the policies contained in the Belfast draft Plan Strategy and is unable to address emerging policies such as Policy HOU5. The Framework will be reviewed and refreshed after adoption of the Plan Strategy

No change

It would be helpful for the Framework to address the role of Key Site Requirements

Agreed – the Framework will be amended to include reference to the delivery of developer contributions that form part of Key Site Requirements in draft BMAP

Included at par. 5.12

Better integration with the LDP provides a clearer basis for securing contributions

Disagree – as clearly set out in the draft Framework, the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and existing regional planning policy  already provide a clear basis for securing developer contributions through the planning application process

No change

In relation to Chapter 13, cautions against the impression that assessment, mitigation, and enforcement is in any way dependent upon contributions being secured from developers

Comment – as set out at paragraph 13.9 of the Framework, developer contributions are not a means to circumvent the requirements of PPS2

No change

Concerned that £3 million in developer contributions required to manage the impacts of new development has been secured but not yet spent

Comment – the Council is finalising government arrangements for spending financial contributions. £475,000 of developer contributions have been committed so far to public realm enhancements in the city centre. The City, Regeneration and Development team is bringing forward proposals for further areas of public realm spend

No change

There needs to be appropriate governance of developer contributions

As above No change

Further detail is required around how planning agreements will be monitored and enforced

Comment – the monitoring and enforcement of developer contributions falls outside the scope of the Framework and is a separate operational matter that is being addressed by the Council

No change

The definition of a 'Grampian' condition should be included in the Glossary

Agreed – a definition of “Planning Condition” (including ‘Grampian’ condition) will be included

Included in the Glossary at Appendix A

A list of retained Planning Policy Statements should be included in the Appendices

Disagree – a list of relevant Planning Policy Statements is already provided in Chapter 3 of the Framework. The Framework supports the planning policy transition until the Belfast Local Development Plan Strategy is adopted. The Framework will then be reviewed and refreshed

No change

The Framework states that in some cases the default position will be in-kind contributions. This contradicts paragraph 10.14 which states that the Department will generally carry out physical infrastructure work

Agree – DfI Roads has confirmed in their consultation response that they generally prefer the developer to carry out highway works.

Included at par. 10.14

Chapter 2 of the Framework omits paragraph 3.8 of the SPPS, which is the starting point for assessing development proposals and states that ‘…sustainable development should be permitted, having regard to the development plan and all other material considerations, unless the proposed development will cause demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance.’ 

Agree – paragraph 3.8 of the SPPS provides important context to decision making and should be referenced in the Framework. Framework will be amended to included reference to it

Included at par. 3.11

Developer contributions should only be sought where a planning condition cannot be used

Disagree – this statement misunderstands the concept of developer contributions. The definition of developer contributions is provide at paragraphs 2.1 and 2.5 of the draft Framework. Contributions can be both in-kind or financial, or a combination of both. Developer contributions can be secured by either a condition or planning agreement depending on the circumstances

No change

Planning conditions can be used in most cases. Planning agreements should only be used exceptionally. The Framework should clearly set out the tests when planning agreements will be required

Agree – the Framework will be amended to provide greater clarity around when a developer contribution can be secured by condition and when it should be secured by way of a planning agreement

Included at pars. 2.7 and 2.10

There are several instances where reference is made to off-site provision in lieu of on-site provision. However, this is not supported by planning policy (e.g. PPS 8 does not provide this provision)

Disagree – Policy OS 2 of PPS 8 states that an exception to the requirement for integral open space within the proposed development may be considered in cases where residential development is designed to integrate with and make use of adjoining public open space. Moreover, as the Framework identifies, there may be occasions where it may be more appropriate to enhance or upgrade existing open space facilities in the locality which could be used by occupants of the proposed development. This would be a relevant material consideration and the Framework recognises this potential scenario

No change

There is no evidence base which provides a detailed qualitative and quantitative assessment of open space provision

Comment – this information will be underpinned by the Belfast Open Space Strategy which is expected to be adopted in the near future

No change

No mention is made of exemptions or incentives (e.g. the Vacant Building Credit used in England) which could be used to encourage and support growth

Comment – the Vacant Building Credit is a national planning policy in England which seeks to incentivise the development of brownfield sites by not applying developer contributions to the equivalent of existing vacant floor space. This is not a regional policy in Northern Ireland and it outside the scope of this Framework

No change

The document should be identified as guidance rather than a framework

Comment – whether the document is referred to as a framework or guidance is not especially relevant. The key point is that the Framework will be a material consideration relevant to the determination of planning applications

No change

Developer contributions should be negotiated on a site-by-site basis during the processing of planning applications

Comment – each planning application is judged on its individual merits having regard to the planning policy context and relevant material considerations. The Framework will form part of that policy context and provides valuable guidance to developers, communities and other stakeholders as to how developer contributions will be secured through the application process

No change

Appendix C – Viability Appraisal Checklist

You said Response Final DCF

Land purchase costs are not included

Agree – the Viability Appraisal Checklist will be amended to include reference to land costs

Included in the Viability Appraisal Checklist at Appendix C

It should also include areas of expansion within a 10 year period (so often we see developments grow in smaller numbers that require full traffic management impact assessments for instance)

Disagree – this is not considered relevant to the Viability Appraisal Checklist

No change

There should perhaps be a secondary appraisal to follow the Viability Appraisal Checklist where the costs associated with developer contributions and their impact are assessed. This could be assessed against benchmark scores

Comment – a future review of the effectiveness of developer contributions and their ‘value for money’ is outside the scope of the Framework

No change

Agrees that the Viability Appraisal Checklist is only an example and may be revised on a case by case basis in respect of individual applications

Comment – noted  No change

Equality Screening Report

You said Response Final DCF

Planning agreements that restrict occupancy should not be used in the urban area on a single dwelling as this removes the rights of the person living in the property. They cannot access all the housing options open to other homeowners (e.g. access to a mortgage, who they can have living in the property, being unable to rent the property etc.)

Comment – developer contributions that take the form of restrictive occupancy conditions normally only refers to the provision of affordable housing (which shall be restricted to that use). This is outside the scope of the Framework and a consideration for the Belfast Local Plan Strategy  No change
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