The Community Infrastructure Levy

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), made Regulation in April 2010, has filtered through to enforcement by the first wave of Local Authorities. The intention of the CIL is to make the distribution of infrastructure charges on new buildings more uniform and evenly spread, rather than simply punishing the largest developers and cherry picking as the current system has been criticised for. The CIL does appear to achieve the desired improvement of clarity when compared with the ever bewildering Section 106 system, and should with its greater simplicity also accelerate the rate at which charges are collected.

Benefits

As name denotes, the CIL is mostly of benefit to communities themselves. It should make larger developments more accessible to help towns and cities grow, provide a more stable income contributing to infrastructure, and speed up parts of the planning process.

Drawbacks

While the CIL may be welcome as a concept, it is not surprising that there have been murmurs of discontent from the self build community as the new regulations come to fruition. After all, the levy means that almost every new home builder will pay, and from what we’ve seen so far the tariffs are not cheap, potentially adding a significant amount onto the cost of a project for the creation of a single dwelling.

How it works

The CIL applies to every new residential unit of any size, and every new building of 100m2 or more internal floor space where a new dwelling is not created. The charge is applied per square metre. Where an existing structure is replaced or extended, the internal floor space of that structure may be deducted from the chargeable total.

The charge will be imposed on commencement of works, but the local authority can define whether this may be paid in instalments.

Charges levied will vary between councils, and while they as charging authorities must set their own rates, these are subject to guidelines and a public consultation. The levy is not designed to be so high that it constrains development potential, but should support a significant investment in local infrastructure. The charging authority does have the power to set different rates according to the type of development or the area in which it takes place; however any variance in rate must be warranted by the economic potential of the project.

Current examples

Local Authorities phasing in the CIL currently, known as ‘front runners’, are carefully integrating the system with support from the Planning Advisory Service. The aim of this project is to set positive examples that can be used as case studies when the structure is rolled out throughout England and Wales.

The first authority to implement the levy was Newark and Sherwood District Council in November 2011, who set the bar at a sliding scale based on the affluence of the location where the development takes place, the maximum charge being £70 per m2. The only other to enforce the measure thus far has been Shropshire Unitary Authority, who charge £40 per m2 in urban zones and £80 per m2 in rural.

Follow progress and get the latest updates on implementation direct from the Planning Advisory Service here.

Further Reading

About the Community Infrastructure Levy Planning Portal
Community Infrastructure Levy / Related Publications Department for Communities and Local Government
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Planning Authority Service

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