How are planning obligations identified?


The identification of planning obligations should start as early as possible in the planning process.  In most parts of the borough we negotiate planning obligations with developers on a site by site basis.  The local policy basis for identifying planning obligations is Plan:MK, and the most relevant policies are set out in the table below.  Neighbourhood plan policies drawn up by Town and Parish Councils will also be a consideration, where the Plan has been made a part of the Development Plan for the area.

The council also has a number of supplementary policies related to Planning Obligations. Which are outlined in our Planning Obligations SPD. Affordable Housing is covered by a separate Supplementary Planning Document, which should also be referred to.

In terms of obligations related to the provision of infrastructure, the evidence supporting Plan:MK is set out in the Local Investment Plan (LIP) and a Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) was submitted at the Plan:MK Examination.  These Plans give a broad indication of infrastructure requirements and costs.  The IDP remains a ‘living’ document and continues to be reviewed and updated.

When a planning application comes forward the Planning Service will consult various council cervices, infrastructure providers, ward councillors and Town and Parish Councils on potential planning obligations to offset the impact of development.  The planning service will assess the evidence returned to it for proposed planning obligations on a case by case basis.  This assessment will consider whether the obligations proposed meet the three tests (above), and are supported by local policy (in Plan:MK and Neighbourhood Plans).  The weight to be attached to existing supplementary planning obligations policies will also be considered.

Plan:MK Chapter

Relevant Policies

Development Strategy

Policy DS3 (Employment Development Strategy)

Policy DS4 (Retail and Leisure Development Strategy)

Strategic Site Allocations

Policies SD1, SD3-SD9, SD11-SD14, SD16-SD18

Homes and Neighbourhoods

Policy HN2 (Affordable Housing)

Transport and Connectivity

Sustainable Transport Network (Policy CT1)

Movement and Access (Policy CT2)

Walking and Cycling (Policy CT3)

Redways (Policy CT4)

Education and Health

Education (Policies EH1 –EH3)

Health Facilities (Policies EH5 and EH6)

Infrastructure Delivery

Delivering Infrastructure (Policy INF1)

Flood Risk

Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDs) and Integrated Flood Risk Management (Policy FR2)


Heritage and Development (Policy HE1)

Public Open Space, Leisure and Recreation

Open space, leisure and recreation facilities (Policies L2 -L4)

Culture and Community

Public Art, Cultural Wellbeing (Policy CC1)

Community Facilities (Policy CC4)

Community Facilities (Policies CC2, CC3 and CC4)

Sustainable Construction

Sustainable Construction (Policy SC1)

Renewable Energy (Policy SC2)


Planning obligations may be sought from any scale of development, except where size thresholds are specified in Plan:MK.  The main thresholds are for;

  • affordable housing – required for residential schemes of 11 homes or more;
  • public art and cultural wellbeing – required for residential schemes of 11 homes and non-residential schemes of 1,000 sq.m or more;
  • carbon offset fund contributions - required for residential schemes of 11 homes and non-residential schemes of 1,000 sq.m or more;
  • on-site community energy networks – consideration required for residential schemes of 100 homes and non-residential schemes of 1,000 sq.m or more; and
  • open space and recreation provision – thresholds start at schemes for 11 homes (see Appendix C in Plan:MK for further details).

Financial obligations will normally be related to the capital costs associated with the delivery of infrastructure.  However, there will also be some circumstances where revenue contributions may be sought to mitigate the impact of development.  This is likely to be:

  • to cover maintenance costs associated with public open space (where this is transferred to the Council or another appropriate body);
  • provision of ‘pump priming’ funding to establish a service at the outset of a development before it becomes commercially viable, or other core funding comes into effect.  Examples of this might include subsidising bus services, or supporting healthcare services in advance of NHS funding triggers;
  • monitoring and implementation costs in relation to Travel Plans.


The policy requirements in Plan:MK were assessed in a whole plan viability study (in 2017).

Issues with individual site viability as schemes are brought forward for development need to be discussed with the Council as early on in the process as possible – ideally at pre-application stage.  Viability reports submitted to Milton Keynes Council by developers will be assessed by an independent consultant contracted by the Council (currently Andrew Golland Associates).  Costs associated with this assessment need to be met by developers.

In line with national guidance Milton Keynes Council will publish viability reports, unless otherwise agreed.