Growing numbers of developers are being hit by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) imposed by local authorities, warn planning solicitors Coles Miller.
Local authorities are increasingly looking for alternative sources of revenue as central government freezes the amount they are allowed to raise in Council Tax.
Developers are in the front line as councils impose Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges on them or recommend Section 106 planning agreements.
Under these levies and agreements, developers carrying out schemes must either pay extra charges to the council or undertake extra work such as carrying out road improvement schemes.
“It’s one of the things that developers are worrying about most at the moment. They are becoming more commonplace,” said Coles Miller Solicitors Planning Consultant James Cain, a Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
“Local authorities are more likely to charge and those charges are getting higher,” he added.
Councils will typically seek to impose a CIL charge to cover the cost of providing extra transport infrastructure to serve new housing or commercial developments.
The CIL regulations provide 100 per cent relief from the levy on those parts of a development which are to be used as affordable housing.
Councils are also likely to impose a Community Infrastructure Levy to help provide public open space for large housing developments.
But developers can contest the Community Infrastructure Levy where circumstances allow. Coles Miller advises:
- Get specialist legal advice - the planning process is inherently complex
- Challenge early - as soon as possible in the determination stage, rather than appealing against a planning decision that has already been taken
- Negotiate early - some local authorities are prepared to reduce CIL charges if the developer can put forward a strong case.
“Some local authorities are more pragmatic than others. They would rather see some kind of benefit for their town than risk a developer walking away because the CIL was too high,” said Mr Cain.
“Councils accept that the last few years have not been easy for developers and they would rather have 50 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing.”
But Mr Cain added: “The developers have to be pragmatic as well. They are more likely to succeed in getting a CIL reduced if they aim for a win-win compromise.”
He and his team specialise in planning applications in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset but they carry out work across the UK.
Mr Cain said the Borough of Poole was one of the more progressive planning authorities with regard to the Community Infrastructure Levy because it published detailed costs online with current residential charges ranging from £75 per sqm to £150 per sqm.
“That helps to remove uncertainties from the planning process. Different local authorities are more further forward than others. Poole is leading the way locally,” said Mr Cain.
Coles Miller Solicitors’ planning team advises commercial developers and also individual residents seeking specialist legal advice.
The team can carry out feasibility studies - including the use of digital imagery - to help determine the financial viability in planning development projects.
The team can also provide planning permission advice with regard to identifying and promoting strategic sites for development.
For further details, please contact Coles Miller Solicitors Planning Consultant James Cain, 01202 293226.