Improving the governance of developer contributions

Councils play a unique and critical role in planning, funding and delivering the infrastructure that is required to ensure that the vision and growth objectives set out in Local Plans is sustainable and meets the needs of communities.

The various forms of developer contributions that exist to mitigate the impact of this development are rarely, if ever, sufficient to fund all of the infrastructure that is required to support an area. Therefore, to ensure that they are used effectively they should be considered as part of a wider, corporate approach towards funding and delivering infrastructure.

This is an increasing challenge in post-COVID economies, where there is continued pressures on public finances, and demographic and social changes are all putting pressure in different ways on local infrastructure.

In 2020 we published the advice note ‘Start with the spend in mind’ which was aimed at helping senior leadership teams to understand the important role of developer contributions. Building on this we have published a more detailed handbook on improving the governance of developer contributions which includes a self-assessment toolkit for councils. This brings together practical learning from councils across England that have developed effective governance processes in the end to end system of planning for and delivering infrastructure.

This guidance presents best practice and provides local examples that are intended to support councils to ensure that developer contributions are used in an effective and integrated way.

Click on the links below to access the full report and the self-assessment tool.

The handbook provides an overview as to why good governance for developer contributions matters and explains why it is important to consider them in the wider context of a corporate approach towards infrastructure planning, funding and delivery.

It provides guidance on a number of key principles. This includes fundamental things to consider to enable improvements to the governance of developer contributions, along with a selection of best practice case studies and resources as to how this has been done elsewhere.

The handbook has been developed for senior officers working on the operational aspects of developer contributions and infrastructure planning. It is intended to be used as a quick and easy guide that highlights ways in which your current processes can be improved to ensure that developer contributions are used in an effective and integrated way.

Key lessons and top tips

The contents of the handbook on improving the governance of developer contributions is largely based on the insights, learning and experience of councils from across the country. From this we have identified the following key lessons that we believe will help councils to achieve the effective governance of developer contributions.