Planning obligations

Planning obligations are legal documents that require developers to undertake certain works or make financial contributions in order to mitigate the impacts of the development proposed. Planning obligations are most commonly used on residential developments where the proposed new dwellings will lead to additional demands on affordable housing open space, protected landscapes, education provision and other local infrastructure. All new developments must address the likely obligations relevant to the scale of development proposed. Most commonly, these obligations are met through a Unilateral Undertaking or S.111 Agreement. However, for more complex applications, a Section 106 (S106) agreement is required.

Unilateral undertakings - How much will it cost?

Affordable housing

The thresholds (number of homes on a scheme) where affordable housing can be required are established in a combination of National Planning Guidance  and Local Planning Policy and vary by location. Our adopted Local Plan policy on affordable housing requires contributions to be sought from all sites, unless Government Guidance indicates otherwise.

In May 2016 the Government revised the online Planning Practice Guidance. This states that tariff contributions should not be sought from developments of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1000sqm. However in designated rural areas, local planning authorities may choose to apply a lower threshold of 5-units.

Affordable housing contributions will still be required for residential developments over these thresholds in size but these will be secured through a negotiated Section 106 agreement. There is therefore no longer a need to submit a Unilateral Undertaking with an application instead we will advise you of the requirements as part of the application process. 

Open space

Historically we have required applicants to submit a unilateral undertaking for off-site open space provision to meet the needs for open space arising from the proposed development. However, such contributions are now covered by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). A Section 106 Agreement will be required to secure on-site open space/play space provision.

Habitat mitigation

Despite the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) where a proportion of CIL goes towards infrastructure to mitigate any impact upon habitats, contributions towards non-infrastructure mitigation are also required as development that will impact on a protected habitat cannot proceed under an EU directive unless fully mitigated. Evidence shows that all new dwellings within 10 kilometres of the Exe Estuary and/or the Pebblebed Heaths Special Protection Areas (SPA's) will have a significant effect on protected habitats and hence a mitigation contribution towards non-infrastructure is required for all new dwellings from the 1st May 2017.

The charges for non-infrastructure are formulated as follows:  




Total Charge Per New Dwelling


Exe Estuary Only


Pebblebed Heaths Only


Exe Estuary and Pebblebed   Heaths


View our map to see whether your site lies within 10 kilometres of the SPA boundaries.

What do I need to send in?

If your application includes additional residential units you will need to submit either a Unilateral Undertaking or S.111 Form (along with the appropriate contribution) – further information and templates are available.

When you submit a Unilateral Undertaking, you will have to make sure you have included all the relevant documentation. You will need to return the following documents:

  • One original, signed unilateral undertaking;
  • A cheque for £50, made payable to East Devon District Council, to cover registration costs.

If you decide to submit a S.111 Form with up-front payment, you will have to make sure you have included all the relevant documentation. You will need to return the following documents:

  • One original, completed and signed S.111 Form;
  • A cheque (made payable to East Devon District Council) for the relevant contribution amount unless payment is to be made over the telephone.

If you need any specific advice regarding the above, please email with the site address and proposal, and we will provide you with an accurate costing and the appropriate Unilateral Undertaking template.

Please note that we will require a completed Unilateral Undertaking or S.111 Form and payment securing any necessary Habitat contribution in order to validate and start considering an application.

When this content has been updated

Last updated 24 April 2017