Tuesday, May 1

How to make life better.

As disabled people we often moan about discrimination and disablism and of course this is true, but often we are unaware that there is legislation that could be used to our, and everyone elses benefit but is often forgotten about or ignored.
In particular I'm talking about Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990). Section 106 of the Act (as substituted by the 1991 Act), and in DoE Circular 5/05, produces effects which are often referred to as Planning Gains or Planning Obligations. It relates to monies paid by developers to Local Planning Authorities in order to offset the costs of the external effects of development. For example, if a developer were to build 100 new houses, there would be effects on local schools, roads etc., which the Local Authority would have to deal with. In that situation there might be a Section 106 agreement as part of the granting of planning permission. The developer might agree to make a contribution towards the provision of new schools, or pay for extra costs of roads.
With me so far? So here's a real example. 18 months ago, Tesco opened a huge new Superstore in Hexham, and had the Planning Dept given it any real thought they could have said to Tesco, " OK you can have planning permission, but in return we want you to run a wheelchair accessible bus service around the villages 3 times a week". For a company like Tesco the cost is almost invisible, its a good way to improves services for the community generally and could also bring positive benefit to those unable to get into town on their own. The trouble is, it has been found that Section 106 is little used in rural areas or areas of sparse population. This is because local councils are paranoid that a company like Tesco will 'pull out' if they are asked to contribute 106 money. Believe me they wont. They don't invest money in new developments like Hexham on the off chance of making a profit, they know to the exact penny how much they expect to make. And as for offering some sort of bus service, the cost would be offset in a days trading probably! So lets encourge our local councils to make more use of this in the future, its there for all our benefit.

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