Threat to cost of green space upkeep continues

Local authorities remain at risk of losing vital cash for the upkeep of landscapes, policy committee member Ian Phillips has warned.

Officials had said rules over planning obligations or section 106 agreements allowing for the building and looking after of public-realm work, would not be changed. This followed a consultation in May that suggested the onus for maintenance of space could swing to local authorities.

However, Phillips warned that planning obligations were about to be revised.

Under the current system, building developers pay for and fund the upkeep of green spaces to offset the impact of their urban projects.

The Landscape Institute has lobbied hard in the past to prevent the changes (HW, 9 July), arguing that cash-starved councils would be reluctant to build green spaces for fear of the upkeep costs.

The original announcement was included in new proposals for the community infrastructure levy. This was launched by Labour in early 2010 but was reviewed by the coalition. The levy is to be reformed to devolve more power to locals.

Decentralisation minister Greg Clark said at the annoucenement of the levy reforms: "Communities should reap the benefits of new development. These reforms will put in place a fairer system. Too little of the benefits of development go to local communities, and we want to correct that with a reformed levy under genuine local control."

Councils will have to allocate a "meaningful proportion" of cash raised in a neighbourhood to spend on infrastructure most needed by the local community.

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