At its 16 July meeting it considered Policy and Strategy with regard to the Community Infrastructure Levy.
‘The Committee received a report setting out information on the current approach used to administer the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) along with data on the funds raised and its allocation. The Committee was asked for its views which would be fed into a review of the current policy and strategy. The Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Regeneration (Job Share), Councillor Paul Scott, was in attendance for this item.
During the introduction to the report the following points were noted.
- CIL had been collected by the Council since April 2013, with the levy used to mitigate against the impact of development.
- When CIL was first introduce its charge equated to £120 per square metre (psm). As the levy was linked to indexation, the charge had increased and was currently £170psm. From 2013 until the end of 2018/19 over £27,000,000 had been collected from CIL contributions.
- CIL was split into two sections, namely a Borough CIL which accounted for 85% of the contributions and the Local Meaningful Proportion which equated for the remaining 15% and was at present allocated through Community Ward Budgets.
- A requirement for the Borough CIL was for each local authority to set out a schedule through which spending would be allocated for identified infrastructure projects.
No money was allocated from 2013 to 2016 while the outcome from the Growth Zone application was awaited. The schedule was administered through the Council’s Infrastructure Finance Group, with the current policy being to allocate CIL funds through the Capital Plan.
Following the introduction of the report the Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions. The first related to the Local Meaningful Proportion and whether there was an excess generated above what was used for the Community Ward Budgets, which was confirmed that there was an excess currently being created. It was noted that this excess could be allocated to the Community Ward Budgets, but the Committee agreed that consideration should be given to developing a scheme that local communities could bid for funding for projects in their local area.
Furthermore, it was agreed that it would be good if any such scheme could be targeted towards those communities experiencing the higher levels of development. It was acknowledged that it would be important for the scheme to take into account the varying ability of communities across the borough to ensure that it was equitable.
In response to a question about data on where CIL income had been generated, it was advised that this information was published annually on a Ward basis. However CIL was collected on a borough wide basis and was not restricted to it being spent in the Ward from where it was raised, which was in line with government regulations for CIL.
It was questioned whether there were safeguards in place to ensure that infrastructure was delivered where it was most needed. In response it was highlighted that the allocation of the Borough CIL was linked through the Local Plan and the Infrastructure Delivery Plan which influenced where CIL was assigned in the capital programme.
Regarding the Local Meaningful Proportion it was confirmed that this was also collected on a borough wide basis rather than being allocated specifically to the Ward in which the development took place. It was highlighted that it could be difficult for residents to understand how CIL was administered and as such it was agreed that thought needed be given to how this could be improved.
It was noted that if local communities prepared a Local Neighbourhood Plan for their area they would be able to retain 25% of CIL contributions for the Local Meaningful Proportion. However if the area in question was not parished then the funds would still be administered by the Council. It was agreed that the possibility of generating additional funding for local areas could potentially be used as an incentive for communities to develop their own Local Neighbourhood Plans.
It was questioned whether there were examples of developers not paying their contributions. In response it was confirmed that the level of non-payment was Page 10 very low due to the attentiveness of officers. Should there be an instance of non-payment then there was two options for enforcement recourse which were either issuing a stop notice on the development or through civil litigation. It was noted that there have only been two instances when the Council came close to litigation.
It was confirmed that the Council was able to change its charging schedule, but any change had to be based upon viability. At present there was no proposal to review the CIL charging schedule.
In response to a question about political input into the allocation of CIL funding it was advised that it was currently being reviewed to ensure that there was political oversight. There was also a need for clarity on a local level about where funding was coming from so local communities would be able to see the benefit of new development.
It was confirmed that at present the majority of the Borough CIL had been allocated to education infrastructure projects as education was a priority at the time of allocation. Plans were currently being developed for each area identifying current and future need, which would assist with creating a long term strategy that included a greater level of local information.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Chair thanked the Cabinet Member and the officers for their attendance at the meeting and their engagement with the Committee. Conclusions Following discussion of the report, the Committee reached the following conclusions:-
- That there should be greater opportunity for those local communities where development was taking place to have access to funding from the Local Meaningful Proportion of CIL and any scheme created to address this should be fairly governed to take into account the diversity of the borough.
- That CIL funding presented an opportunity to increase the level of devolution to local communities in the borough through Local Neighbourhood Plans.
- There was concern that it might not be apparent to the public that the Community Ward Budgets were being funded from new development in the borough.
- There was a concern that it was not clear for the public how funds raised through CIL on a local level were spent.
The Committee RESOLVED to recommend to the Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Regeneration that:
- A fair and equitable scheme should be developed to allow those communities experiencing a high level of development to apply for funding from the Local Meaningful Proportion of CIL for projects in their local area.
- Opportunities to increase the level of devolution in the borough, using CIL funding as an incentive, should be explored.
- That any references to Community Ward Budgets on the Council’s website should make clear that the funds for the scheme had been generated through CIL.
- That consideration should be given to finding a simple way of presenting information relating to CIL, which would allow the public to understand how funds raised in their local area had been allocated.