Image capture: Mar 2019 @ 2024 Google

A council has raked in tens of millions of unspent money which could be used to improve services in the community. 

A Home Builders Federation report revealed that Rushcliffe Borough Council is sitting on £42.2 million of donations from housing developers, ranking it sixth in England and Wales.

The Section 106 money is given by home builders in exchange for planning permission in the district and is meant to upgrade local facilities and infrastructure.

The report had responses from 171 local authorities, suggesting that each council had on average £8 million of unused funds, however Rushcliffe holds more than five times this.

In the Rushcliffe Borough Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, December 12, Councillor Jen Walker (Lab, Ruddington) asked Councillor Roger Upton (Con, Radcliffe on Trent), portfolio holder for planning and housing, what the council is doing to ensure these “essential infrastructure contributions” are spent. 

Coun Upton said: “We are the banker, we hold a significant amount of money, but it’s not our money. 

“It is money that we are holding as an intermediary banker between the project provider and the developer.”

He says that in recent years there have been large housing developments in the Rushcliffe area which has led to a significant increase in the amount of Section 106 money held. 

In the year 2021/22, the council received £16 million from developers – more than a third of the contributions that the authority currently holds. 

Coun Upton emphasised that it was the responsibility of providers to bring projects forward to use the funding, saying the council tries to “unlock any barriers perceived to be there”. 

He said: “We have a dedicated officer that is proactive and reminds project sponsors that their money is nearing the full amount or has got to the full amount and persuades them that it’s their money, not ours, and that it’s about time they took it.

“I think we are very proactive in that area, we don’t just take the money and squirrel it away and leave it there.

“There are no secrets about the amounts.”

The Section 106 money is donated by housing developers for community infrastructure projects

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at Home Builders Federation, said: “Each year developers contribute around £8 billion to local authorities for the provision of local infrastructure, affordable housing and education, recreational and health facilities.

“Investment in new housing delivery brings unrivalled economic and social benefits to communities but too many of these advantages are going unseen by local people as councils fail to turn payments into the services, facilities and infrastructure that residents want. 

“Not only is this a disservice to communities but it undermines perceptions of home building, allowing lazy negative perceptions to persist.

“In the face of a deepening housing shortage and cost of living crisis, it has never been more important to build new homes and local people should enjoy the benefits that can bring.”