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NHS and other blue light services funding through Section 106 – a fair deal?

After a year and a half of the pandemic, the importance of securing adequate funding for the NHS should not be in dispute. There is an essential debate regarding the source of such funding and the extent to which new development might increase demand for blue light services. Some will argue, with some justification, that these services free at the point of delivery are and should be funded through general taxation.

On the other hand, there is the argument that an increase in the population within an area will increase the demand for all blue light services which will not be recognised in the funding regime and as such there will be a funding gap. It is accepted that development has a legal requirement to mitigate its impacts, but a rational basis for funding these services through planning obligations has often been lacking.

Of course, the issue does not end there. For blue light services, one must separate out the population that are new households forming from people already in the area (thus captured by existing funding formulae). Any unfunded impact should be assessed with reference to the new population moving into the development from outside existing catchments for blue light services. ‘Backfilling’ through in-migration resulting from the freeing up of the accommodation of those already living in the area should also be considered.

DLP, working for a number of NHS Trusts, have developed a model to inform the calculation of requests for planning contributions that is responsive to details of individual schemes in terms of location, tenure mix and scale, all of which act to determine the characteristics of the total population (in terms of age and sex) and patterns of migration into any new development.

The model has been accepted by Inspectors at appeal as identifying the extent financial contribution would be fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development. Negotiations have been conducted more quickly and have been agreed as part of Statements of Common Ground with developers, indicating a fair deal for both developers and the blue light services.

DLP’s recent work has been with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust and Leicestershire’s Clinical Commissioning Group and we are currently advising on levels of contributions that may be required for large Sustainable Urban Extensions (SUEs) in emerging Local Plans.

For developers, this work can determine the level of funding and prevent the over-exaggeration of claims that are based upon total population or lack of recognition that the funding regimes will in future recognise the increase in the population.

Look out for the Webinar from DLP on Blue light services and Section 106 Agreements.

John HelyarNHS and other blue light services funding through Section 106 – a fair deal?