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Borough council to appoint three firms to advise on s.106 obligations

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is to appoint three "suitably qualified" legal practices to provide advice in relation to s.106 planning obligations.

The contract will begin on 4 August 2016 and end on 3 August 2019.

The local authority said the successful firms would act on its behalf “in dealing primarily with s.106 planning obligations and unilateral undertakings under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, that the council negotiates on, leading to completion of the deeds”.

Welywn Hatfield currently outsources these tasks on an individual case basis. Where obligations are secured for Hertfordshire County Council, solicitors at the county are also involved with the preparation of the relevant deed.

The council said it enters into approximately 20 planning obligations and unilateral undertakings per annum, including modifications, although it anticipates that this number will increase alongside progression of the local plan leading to its adoption.

Welwyn Hatfield said: “Generally, payment for work undertaken in relation to the planning obligation and uniltateral undertaking – (i) negotiating and (ii) drafting of deeds and its (iii) completion will be payable by the developer and the legal practice dealing with the matter will be expected to seek these costs directly from the developer.

“An undertaking for the payment of the associated costs will be required from the developer or their legal advisers.  Such costs will also include any necessary travel or accommodation costs.”

The council said it would also pay directly for the following services:

  • providing legal advice on planning applications;
  • providing legal advice on enforcement matters; and
  • advising and acting for the council in any appeals and legal challenges in relation to s.106 Agreements.

Welwyn Hatfield planning obligations tended to fall into three categories: ‘standard’; complex; and very complex.

The council said it intended to award framework contracts to three companies, who will be ranked 1 to 3 depending on their evaluated scores in relation to the standard and complex obligations and unilateral undertakings.

The company ranked 1 will have first refusal of the work and be able to decline it where there would be a professional conflict of interest, a lack of capacity or other reason. The company ranked 2 would then be offered the work, and if they were unable to undertake it, the company ranked 3 would be offered the work.

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