DCLG addresses Community Infrastructure Levy confusion

17 Dec 12
Councils have welcomed fresh guidance on the use of the Community Infrastructure Levy but urged ministers to refrain from making any more changes.
By Vivienne Russell | 17 December 2012

Councils have welcomed fresh guidance on the use of the Community Infrastructure Levy but urged ministers to refrain from making any more changes.

Introduced by the last government, the Community Infrastructure Levy allows local authorities to impose a charge on new developments in their area. Revenue collected is then used to fund community projects such as parks, schools and health centres. It has been estimated that it could raise £1bn a year by 2016. However, concerns had been expressed about how the levy sat with earlier Section 106 planning deals, which require developers to invest in local infrastructure.

The Department for Communities and Local Government answered these and other concerns in a document published on Friday. It provides assurance for developers that there will be no ‘double charging’ by clarifying the relationship between the levy and Section 106 planning obligations.

It also makes clear that those councils already in the process of developing their Community Infrastructure Levy proposals do not need to re-start their levy-setting process, although they will need to check compliance. Support is being made available to those councils that choose to review their levy in the light of the new guidance.

Planning minister Nick Boles said: ‘Government has worked actively with councils and developers to get this guidance right and make clear how we expect the levy to work.

‘The guidance ensures that councils who have already adopted their levy will not need to do anything new and only councils developing levy rates will need to consider this new guidance.’

The department added that it would ‘continue to listen’ to concerns being raised, specifically the need for greater clarity on how the funds raised by the levy should be spent.

Responding to the guidance, Clyde Loakes, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s environment and housing board, said it reflected existing best practice and provided some helpful clarification.

But he added: ‘In order to allow developers and councils to efficiently bring forward good quality development for local communities it is vital that the government does not unnecessarily chop and change guidance in future.

‘Any future changes must be based on evidence and the experience gained from the operation of the Community Infrastructure Levy on the ground. We are extremely keen to ensure that where concerns arise local government is able to continue to work with the development industry and the government to examine these issues and work toward mutually agreeable solutions.’

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said she was pleased that the document ‘clearly sets out what local authorities must do when they are looking to charge the levy’.

She added: ‘These revisions should help support development by ensuring the levy is being implemented effectively.’


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