Release date: 27 June 2016

Cotswold District Council is consulting the public and businesses about plans to introduce a more efficient, faster and more transparent way of obtaining funds for general infrastructural improvements when developments are granted planning permission.  A growing number of local authorities – including several in Gloucestershire – are adopting the power to make Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges to pay for improvements such as contributions towards school places, creation of open space, library provision, and transport works.  At the moment these are funded in the Cotswolds by developers entering into legal agreements (also known as Section 106 agreements) with the Council to build or pay for new infrastructure, which only attract funding from about 6% of all planning permissions.  Additionally, Section 106 agreements can sometimes lead to significant delays – and omissions – while parties enter into lengthy negotiations about planning obligations.

CIL charges would be based on a ‘tariff-style’ framework relative to the size and type of development proposed, enabling the Council to secure an appropriate level of general infrastructure provision to support new development. Levy rates are set following a statutory process and will provide the developers with much more certainty at the outset regarding how much money they will be expected to contribute to infrastructural improvements.  Some of the receipts from a CIL would be passed directly back to the communities where development takes place. The ‘meaningful proportion’ as it is known, is 15% of CIL receipts capped at £100 per existing council tax paying dwelling , or 25% of CIL receipts, uncapped, where a community has a Neighbourhood Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order in place.  The regulations for CIL exclude contributions for Affordable Housing which instead will continue to be covered by S106 obligations.

Officers at the Council have gathered evidence to determine the charges which might be applied and have now produced a Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule for public consultation which begins on Monday 27 June 2016 and ends on Monday 8 August 2016 (midnight).

The public are being asked to review the draft and the supporting evidence which can be found at  http://consult.cotswold.gov.uk.  Hard copies of the Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule will also be available for viewing at the Council’s offices in Trinity Road, Cirencester and Moreton Area Centre, as well as public libraries across the district.  Comments can be made via the CDC website http://consult.cotswold.gov.uk or by obtaining forms from the Council offices or online at www.cotswold.gov.uk/go/ForwardPlanning and sending them to CIL PDCS Consultation, Cotswold District Council, Trinity Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 1PX.

Once these views have been collated, the Council intends to formally publish a draft charging schedule in the autumn, inviting the public to make further representations.  After this is completed and any amendments have been made, the Council’s CIL proposal will be examined by an Inspector early next year.  Any person commenting on the schedule during the autumn consultation may request to be heard at the examination stage.

Cllr Nick Parsons, the Deputy Leader of CDC and Cabinet Member for Forward Planning, believes that the CIL approach is a very positive step forward:

“There are many benefits to adopting CIL.  Most notably, experience of local authorities so far has shown that CILs deliver additional funding to carry out a wide range of general infrastructure projects that support growth and benefit the local community.  We will also have the flexibility and freedom to set our own priorities on spending the money in line with local requirements, as well as having access to a predictable source of funding which will enable us to plan ahead more effectively.

CIL is also good news for local people because they will gain a better understanding about how new development is contributing to the funding of their community requirements.  Developers should also benefit because they will have more certainty at the outset regarding how much money they will be expected to contribute to general infrastructural improvements.