Community Infrastructure Levy

Community Infrastructure Levy – Are Lower Tier Authorities Ready?

The Government’s CIL review team produced its report last year and came to the conclusion that the introduction of CIL as currently configured was not fulfilling the original intention of providing a faster, fairer, simpler, more certain and more transparent way of ensuring that all development contributes something towards cumulative infrastructure needs. The research undertaken by the team also indicated that CIL was not delivering the kind of resources that had been anticipated, some authorities by as little as 50%. The recommendations suggest amending the current position and keeping the best of both worlds – a revised CIL through the introduction of a lighter touch and less financial burdensome Local Infrastructure Tariff (LIT) and the retention of s106 agreements for major developments with the removal of pooling restrictions.

The Government has responded to the review through the Housing White Paper and has committed to examining options for reforming developer contributions and will make an announcement at the Autumn Budget 2017. In the meantime the system, which is only just getting embedded in many areas, will continue.

One of the review team’s concerns was how the split of the funds collected could be better co-ordinated to ensure delivery of local infrastructure. The current arrangements for CIL are that 15% of all contributions (capped to £100 per existing council tax dwelling per year) or 25% (not capped for areas with Neighbourhood Plans) goes to Parish or Town Council’s. Where these don’t exist the collecting authority engages with the community on priority projects and agrees how to spend the funds. The amounts that are likely to be generated are not insubstantial for this tier of local government, however, the review team didn’t find any evidence that the Neighbourhood Fund or ‘Meaningful proportion’ makes development any more acceptable at the local level as originally intended. They also felt that scarce and over subscribed resources were likely to be diverted into projects that do not ease the pressure on existing infrastructure and consequently do not actually improve the conditions for local communities.

So ahead of any changes that the Government might make to the developer contributions system what can Town and Parish Councils do to ensure their CIL portion is spent wisely and it contributes to the overall infrastructure of the area?

The following are a range of strategies which can be implemented and ensure that funds are not clawed back by the collecting authority (a 5 year spending window is being introduced by most).

  • Develop a mini Infrastructure Delivery Plan prioritising projects which are supported by evidence as being needed within your area and work up a pipeline of projects which are planned and costed for delivery. CIL funds can be spent on this up front design work.
  • Work with neighbouring parishes to identify joint infrastructure needs and pool resources especially where development crosses over boundaries or large urban extensions are planned.
  • Liaise with the Local Authority on whether there are shared strategic infrastructure priorities which can be advanced through the allocation of the neighbourhood portion.
  • Produce a forward plan of the likely CIL receipts from sites identified in the 5 year housing land supply to predict the total revenue available to enable the securing of additional funds for individual projects.

Although the Community Infrastructure Levy is likely to change Local Parish and Town Council’s need to plan and develop strategies to make sure that they continue to influence where this infrastructure funding is allocated for the benefit of their local residents.

For further information contact James Wilson on 07832 753197 or james@jameswilsonassociates.co.uk

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