The VF – Community Infrastructure Levy

Below is an article from the Wilts and Standard On-in News.

The gist is that the developer is upset about an anonymous letter whistle blowing their Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The backlash against the CIL underlines the degree of mistrust and anger directed both against the landowner and developer.

This is the letter that has caused the developer backlash in the paper.

REGARDING the Chesterton Strategic Development it is odd that it appears to have been exempted from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) resulting in a significant cost saving for the developer and loss of income to Cirencester.

What is CIL?

A mechanism for developer contributions
It will contribute towards infrastructure needed to support the development of the area
It is a charge per square metre of floor space
It is not mandatory

What is CIL for?

To help pay for infrastructure needed to support new development, but
Not to remedy existing deficiencies unless the new scheme will make it worse
Councils must spend the income on infrastructure – but it can decide on what (and this can change over time)

On the CDC website we have this page which holds a link to the following document and page 12 clearly shows the exemption.

It clearly shows that the Chesterton Strategic Development is, for some reason, exempt (£0 per m2 of development) when a levy of £80 per m2 could have been applied…one can only speculate why….

My main question regarding this would be why this development has been exempted in this way?

Has the Council just not got the spine to apply it?

And also a question for the developer:

Surely if he is considering this project as a “legacy” for Cirencester then is there not a moral obligation to step up to the task and volunteer to pay this levy?

In doing so he could then be leaving an actual legacy (i.e. a useful one) for Cirencester rather than the inevitable legacy of traffic gridlock – unless maybe one of the stipulations would be that the ring road were completed to allow adequate traffic flow around the town?

Maybe an even fatter bank account counts for more than moral obligation in the rarified upper echelons?

Regards, an anonymous Cirencester resident

This is the article:

BATHURST developers planning to build 2,350 homes in Cirencester have slammed an “inaccurate and misleading” letter that questioned why the development was exempted from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The anonymous letter published on the Standard’s website on November 30, said that the CIL exemption would result in a “significant cost saving for the developer and loss of income to Cirencester”.

But BDL have hit back at the writer, explaining that it is often the case that major developments like the Chesterton one are excluded from CIL because of “the abnormal and exceptional infrastructure costs associated with delivering these types of strategic sites”.

Instead of paying into a large pot as with CIL, a S106 legal agreement can be used instead, as is the case with Chesterton.

BDL said in a statement: “The S106 legal agreement is far more transparent as the specific costs for the necessary infrastructure can be easily identified and scrutinised.”

The housebuilder explained that it was assumed by Cotswold District Council that the Chesterton development would contribute £32million of S106 costs.

But the current planning application sets out a S106 package of just over £50million which goes towards a range of things including: education, public transport, offsite highways improvements, green infrastructure, parks and open spaces, community an sports facilities, police and broadband.

A further £50m will be required for onsite infrastructure including significant earthworks, drainage and utility requirements.

More than 40 other local authorities have taken a S106 approach to delivering infrastructure for larger strategic sites instead of CIL. These include Central Bedfordshire, East Dorset, Basingstoke and Dean, South Somerset, Mid Devon, Stroud, Cherwell, Vale of Whitehorse and South Oxfordshire.

The Chesterton scheme will however be paying CIL on the retail elements.

The developer added in its statement: “The CIL Charging Schedule was subject to independent scrutiny by an Examiner on December 5.

“The examiner supported the approach set out by the council in zero rating Chesterton, albeit his report is awaited.”

Make a change, make a comment?