CASH contributions from building developers to Ribble Valley Council for affordable homes and other projects have reached more than £1.5 million over the past year.

Councillors on the borough’s planning committee will be given an update on financial contributions and where the money is being spent at their latest meeting on Thursday (January 6). 

Generally, the money from each planning agreement has to be spent within five years.

In addition, councillors are being told that more than 100 affordable homes are currently being delivered across the borough.

The cash payments are known as Section 106 agreements in the planning and building system. They form part of planning permission conditions and are designed to lessen the impact of new housing, commercial or industrial building or road developments on communities, such as the loss of open spaces, increased pressures on local schools or extra traffic.

Ribble Valley Council says it has used cash contributions for a range of projects including public open space, leisure amenities, affordable homes and the Longridge Loop cycling and exercise circuit, according to a new report for councillors this month.

The report for the latest meeting of the borough’s planning committee says: “The council has continued to contribute successfully to the implementation of Section 106 agreements. Most contributions received within the year have come in the form of off-site affordable housing contributions. This includes the second of three instalments of an off-site affordable housing obligation from the Dilworth Lane, Longridge development (Tootle Green), with the entire contribution totalling £1.5 million.

“Other notable receipts include a further £185,000 for affordable housing from a development east of Clitheroe Road, Barrow, as well as £133,000 for off-site public open space arising from development at Standen."

The report adds: “The council is committed to ensuring that any contributions received are used expediently to maximise the benefits from developments at the earliest stage. Within the monitoring period almost £287,000 has been spent using existing contributions already received to secure additional infrastructure and services .

“A significant proportion of this expenditure has been used to continue the successful delivery of affordable housing within the Ribble Valley. Commuted sums for affordable housing have been used to purchase two homes in Longridge and Clitheroe, which have been renovated and are now let as affordable properties. This is in addition to the delivery of 117 affordable homes within new housing developments.

“The council has previously identified the provision of affordable housing as a key issue within the borough and will continue to work on increasing this delivery, both on and off-site,” the report adds.

Councillors will be told the total Section 106 balance (receipts minus expenditure) for the current period is calculated at over £767,00. When this is added to the balance at the end of the previous monitoring period, the total balance of Section 106 contributions currently stands at over £1.6million.

Significant sums have already been received within the current financial year (2021-22) and the final total will be updated at the end of the reporting period in March 2022.

The report says the borough council is continuing to develop plans to ensure that contributions are spent within the specific time limit in each legal agreement, which is typically five years.