Housebuilders may have to pay for new schools in Lancashire under planning overhaul

Developers could be forced to fund new schools in parts of Lancashire where several new estates spring up in the same area.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The move is amongst a series of proposals approved by Lancashire County Council's cabinet to bring the region in line with government guidance issued last year about how local authorities should secure cash from housebuilders to mitigate the effects of their developments.

County Hall can already demand contributions towards the cost of individual school places generated by additional housing, but the revised policy will enable the authority to seek funding for an entirely new facility where multiple estates create a need for a new school. Currently, it would only usually be possible to pursue a new-build school if a single development was large enough to require one.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"In some areas of the county, opportunities to expand our existing schools are extremely limited," said Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for schools, Phillippa Williamson.

Housebuilders currently have to fund additional school places created because of their developments - but could now be told to pay for entirely new schoolsHousebuilders currently have to fund additional school places created because of their developments - but could now be told to pay for entirely new schools
Housebuilders currently have to fund additional school places created because of their developments - but could now be told to pay for entirely new schools

"This proposal...enables us to look at the extent of development across an area and seek contributions from all the developers involved."

Under the new arrangement, any contributions to a new school would be calculated in proportion to the size of each of the individual housebuilders' estates.

A per place price of £20,500 for a primary school and just under £25,000 for a secondary school would be demanded - with the expectation that land and construction costs would be covered and the building provided at a "peppercorn" rent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The new government guidance also suggests that contributions for individual places at existing schools should be based on a national average of school place costs adjusted for local factors.

In Lancashire, that will result in a £622 increase in developer contributions for primary school places to £17,268 - but a more than £1,300 reduction in the amount demanded for secondary schools of £23,775 per place.

County Cllr Williamson said that the new policy would enable the authority to "negotiate the best deal and secure the most places in the right areas".

She added: "This will bring greater clarity and transparency to the process and will reduce the level of developer and local planning authority challenges to education contribution requests.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If district councils which - as local planning authorities - decide whether to grant permission for new housing, were to recommend that an individual estate should be built without any education contribution to County Hall where one had been requested, the new policy means Lancashire County Council would lodge a formal objection.

Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali welcomed the package of changes, arguing that there had been a lack of "synergy" over the number of school places demanded by the county council between developments of different sizes.