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News archive - November/December 2018

DfE moves to secure more school places from developers

DfE moves to secure more school places from developers

The Department for Education has issued new guidance to help ensure there are enough good new school places to meet local needs, while also driving forward an ambitious housing agenda to increase housing delivery, home ownership and the creation of new Garden Communities. The timely provision of infrastructure with new housing is essential, says DfE, in meeting these objectives to secure high quality school places where and when they are needed.

“Establishing pupil yields from housing development and securing developer contributions for education” sets out how DfE expects local authorities to seek developer contributions towards school places that are created to meet the need arising from housing development, when there are not enough places available in existing schools within a suitable distance of the development.

The Department says its guidance draws on existing good practice and will assist “in establishing a robust and consistent evidence base, underpinned by the following principles”:

  • Housing development should mitigate its impact on community infrastructure, including schools;
  • Pupil Product Ratios (PPRs) should be based on up-to-date evidence from recent housing developments;
  • Developer contributions should, where possible, cover the full cost of providing the new school places required, based on viability assessment when strategic plans are prepared and using up-to-date cost information;
  • The early delivery of new schools within strategic developments should be supported where it would not undermine the viability of the school, or of existing schools in the area.

The DfE notes that planning obligations commonly include trigger points that limit the number of houses that can be occupied before developer contributions are paid and school places delivered. It comments: “It is important that agreed trigger points do not make development undeliverable. Nonetheless, there is some risk to local authorities that developments will stall or planning obligations be renegotiated, resulting in a loss of education funding that had been considered secured.”

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