I'd have thought that any housebuilder worth their salt must already be in discussions with their host local authorities on this front; and I know that some responsive local authorities have already initiated the same.
Certainly I've been in rooms where local authorities have openly invited developers "in any difficulty" to come and see them. One notable example that springs to mind is Guy Nicholson, lead member for regeneration at Hackney council, whose officers are most proactive in this arena under his leadership. Another would be Del Goddard at Enfield.
But I can't help but point out that this whole thing is pretty Kafkaesque in nature. As usual, common sense seems to have flown out of the window. Local authorities are starved of cash by central government and are forced to look for extensive s106 agreements to achieve their objectives, and then central government comes in to persuade local authorities to forgo these.
Let alone that anyone who can add two and two will immediately notice that market housing has to become more expensive and less "affordable" to produce tax to pay to make other "social housing" affordable at all. None of it quite squares does it?
No doubt the devil will be in the detail.
But the idea that local authorities can levy a discretionary tax on developers for a share in the benefit during boom markets and can just drop this requirement in the bust times, behoves a certain level of market savvy not normally in the skill set of a local authority planning officer.
I guess this was all supposed to be rationalised by the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which entails one tariff of local tax for all developers, rather than the separately negotiated and thereby costly (in terms of sheer process alone) s106 agreements that have been the norm for the past 20 years.
But the CIL is getting a rather mixed reception and we are still waiting for the actual guidance notes on CIL to accompany the NPPF (as the brilliant Rebecca Paczek says: "In your own time CLG, in your own time. Who needs guidance anyway, operating in a vacuum is so much more interesting"). And only the other day Greg Clark commissioned the BPF to hold a "mini-review" of CIL; although the BPF were quick to point out that they would "not be looking to scrap CIL, but to make sure it does not stand in the way of large infrastructure projects".
Surely localism is the answer here? Surely, under localism, local authorities can exercise common sense and judgement? And isn't the key to all this a relationship of real trust between developer and local authority? Dare I may make so bold as to suggest that, if things are stalled on the stated basis of the s106 agreement being unaffordable, that it might be the case that this key element of trust is missing?