Wealden District Council
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Legal Agreements

What are Legal Agreements?

A new development may place extra pressure on the social, physical and economic infrastructure which already exists in a certain area. A planning obligation will aim to balance the pressure created by the new development with improvements to the surrounding area ensuring that where possible the development would make a positive contribution to the local area and community. 

The terms ‘planning agreement’, ‘planning obligation’, ‘unilateral obligation’ and ‘planning gain’ are often used interchangeably.

The terms known as a Section 106 Agreement is the overarching legal agreement which results from the planning obligations process. Planning gain is a generic term to describe the community benefits achieved through this process.

A planning obligation is a legally binding document which enables a local planning authority to secure matters such as the provision of infrastructure, services or contributions towards them to support development.

Planning obligations can take the form of either bi-lateral agreements or unilateral undertakings, both of which are entered into under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

We usually requires all parties with an interest in the land forming the application site to enter into planning obligations. For example, if the land to which the proposal relates is mortgaged or charged to third parties or if a developer has an option agreement, it will be necessary for such interests to be party to the planning obligation.

We strongly recommend applicants liaise as early as possible with interested parties about their proposals to avoid delays.

Planning obligations are registered as Local Land Charge and are typically enforceable against the parties who have entered into the planning obligation as well as any subsequent successors in title.

Planning obligations can be used for a variety of reasons including:

  • to require money to be paid to the Local Planning Authority, County Council or Parish Council
  • to restrict the development or use of land
  • to require specified operations or actions to be carried out in relation to the land
  • to require land to be used in a specified way
  • to prevent the non-severance of land (e.g. to ensure a self contained residential annex is not sold as a separate unit)
  • to transfer affordable housing or amenity land to another organisation
  • to require that other legal agreements, such as highways agreements, are entered into.

A wide variety of benefits can be sought through the system of planning obligations. Below is a non-exhaustive list of such contributions:

  • Affordable Housing
  • Public Open Space – both provision and future maintenance
  • Education
  • Highways
  • Sustainable transport
  • Libraries
  • Waste and recycling
  • Rights of way
  • Health
  • Public Art
  • Measures to mitigate the impact of development – landscaping works

We often collect contributions on behalf of East Sussex County Council for expenditure by the County Council. Each application is dealt with individually upon its own merits and restrictions; therefore requirements other than those listed above may also be necessary.

Compliance with planning obligations will be monitored. In the event the developer fails to comply with any terms regarding financial payments, a penalty rate of interest – above and beyond indexation – will be incurred until the point the payment is received in full. This will be incorporated into the planning obligation.

In the event of non-compliance with a planning obligation the District Council has powers to instigate legal and planning enforcement action. This could include injunctions to prevent development proceeding further or entering land to carry out required works and recover costs arising from such action.

It should be noted that the District Council will normally require the payment of financial contributions prior to implementation of a development. For phased developments, the staging of payments may be acceptable and the developer will be expected to notify the District Council when relevant and agreed triggers have been reached. All information regarding the triggers for payment and associated matters will be set out in the relevant planning obligation.

We have published a form that allows you to complete key details we will use to draft the Unilateral Undertaking (Obligation) for contributions related to SAMMS and SANGS.

The council will assess and confirm whether the information provided is acceptable or whether amendments are required. We will also check the proof of title submitted. A draft will be returned to the applicant for signing. 

Download and complete the SAMMS and SANGS form. If any fields are not applicable ensure you enter N/A.

When you have competed the form you will need to email it to the council to planning@wealden.gov.uk.

With the form you will need to include:

  • A Site Plan – this is a plan outlining the site in red
  • A copy of the Title Deeds
  • You can optionally provide a covering letter

For guidance purposes this template for SAMMS and SANGS Planning Obligation provides an example of the likely format.

A planning obligation is a legally binding document with significant financial consequences. If you are in any doubt about the meaning and effect of the undertaking you should seek independent legal advice.

The Council’s Legal Services team cannot provide you with any legal advice. 

You can visit the Gov.uk pages for further information on Planning Obligations.

Information on SANGs/SAMMs is available on our website through the guidelines for the creation of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANGS)  and Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Strategy Tariff Guidance (SAMMS). 

If you need to contact a member of the team you can email planning@wealden.gov.uk