An MP has obtained Parliamentary approval to introduce legislation which would give local authorities powers to require developers to deposit funds in the form of a bond to be used if the local area is not maintained properly.
Justin Tomlinson, the Conservative MP for North Swindon, pointed out that when a new development takes place, all related street scene work and costs remain the responsibility of the developer until the area is adopted by the local authority. “Developments are often on a large scale, and it is not unusual for an area to remain unadopted for many years,” he told the Commons.
He went on to explain that the principle of a developer bond was not new. “I am proposing an extension of the powers already granted to local authorities, the first of which was granted through section 38 agreements under the Highways Act 1980. Those powers give the local authority the ability at the point of adoption to ensure that the highways infrastructure is built to an appropriate standard and is not a burden on the public purse. That covers things such as street lighting, pavement construction and drainage,” he said.
The other power, said Tomlinson, would allow for commuted sums secured through section 106 agreements. “This is proving to be essential in sustaining the long-term maintenance of high-cost assets, which are often used as a wow factor by developers to generate sales, such as architectural street lighting, bridges, ponds and decorative street furniture. Without that, the standard local authority budgets would not be sufficient to maintain those items.”
The backbencher told MPs: “My Bill would amend section 38 of the Highways Act 1980. It includes a new provision to allow local authorities to include a developer bond for the maintenance of the street scene in unadopted areas as part of a planning application.”
He added: “My proposed system would allow the local authority to step in where a developer has not maintained an area to an acceptable standard, and it would then be able to recover its costs from the developer through the bond.”
28 October 2010