Correspondence, Gazette, about Community Infrastructure Levy:
(Sent 30 April)
Mr Goss (letters 26 April) manages a deft political manoeuvre. He now acknowledges that two developer levies, Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106, can be collected in tandem, without actually saying he was wrong.
Let me address his points about developer contributions, something which CAUSE Committee members have direct experience with. A report for Government found that:
- By 2017, 133 local authorities (18 in the East of England) had adopted the Community Infrastructure Levy.
- It was worth doing. They levied £945m in 2016/17, and the pot is big enough to support both CIL and section 106. Two thirds of authorities agreed that CIL had resulted in an increase in overall developer contributions. Locally, CAUSE’s analysis and Colchester Council’s analysis show that it would be possible to collect CIL to pay for some extra infrastructure not covered by section 106.
Authorities told government, in another report, that the procedures for implementing a CIL are “not overly burdensome.” Government also said in October last year that as part of its plans to make it easier to collect CIL, it will support authorities to raise funding for “locally agreed priorities such as strategic, large-scale infrastructure projects”.
We expect better from our elected politicians than the mud-slinging in Mr Goss’s letter. Contrary to his assertion, and that of other senior people involved with the north Essex garden communities, CAUSE does not perpetuate myths. Our statements are always backed by analysis and evidence. We are apolitical, with members of the committee being of all political persuasions.
Why does CIL matter? Because our authorities are ignoring the possibility of raising an extra £15,000 per new home, too busy instead pursuing the expensive and risky ‘garden city’ nightmare.
15 April 2019
Councillor Martin Goss’s opinion piece talks about two types of developer levy: “Community Infrastructure Levy” (CIL), and Section 106.
His description needs correction.
Both levies can be imposed by a council at the same time. Neither is being phased out – in fact, there are proposals to make collection easier for councils.
Section 106 agreements are negotiated with developers to provide affordable housing and site-specific infrastructure. The disadvantage is that developers often have the upper hand and frequently negotiate their way out of commitments, especially where Councils lack financial skills.
CIL, on the other hand, is a non-negotiable rate which is set by a council on a square metre basis. It can be collected in addition to Section 106, and pays for infrastructure on a list published by each council.
Our north Essex authorities all miss the opportunity to collect this levy, generally around £15,000 per new home, despite reports for Tendring and Colchester showing that development would still be viable. Braintree did not even look into it. One excuse given is that there isn’t enough land value uplift to support both s106 and CIL but with small development sites changing hands at £1m per acre, or more, this simply doesn’t hold water. Nor does the argument that it is too complicated.
Instead of working to raise money where they can, the Councils say, without financial evidence, that garden communities are the only way to bring infrastructure. But they will not. Large settlements suffer from scale diseconomies. The Councils do not own the land and have no way of harnessing the uplift. Until they produce financial appraisals their promises should be ignored.