A day that many thought would never arrive is fast approaching; on 6th of April 2015 the key change to the planning system introduced by the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations 2010 will take effect.
Planning gain, or contributions towards improvements to local infrastructure and other community facilities, has always been a controversial subject. Whilst proposals for a flat rate development tax during the last Labour government were set aside, the 2008 Planning Act introduced a framework for the imposition of CIL, the detail of which is set out within the Regulations.
The keystone of the new CIL regime is the restriction on the pooling of planning obligations relating to specific pieces or types of infrastructure. The date on which that prohibition will take effect is 6 April 2015.
From that date, and where local authorities have not yet introduced a CIL charging schedule, they will be prevented from seeking planning obligations relating to infrastructure where five or more planning obligations for that infrastructure have been entered into since 6 April 2010. This prohibition may severely curtail the ability of local authorities who have not imposed charging schedules to ensure that developments can be consented subject to the payment of financial contributions which are considered necessary for planning purposes.
Recent projections show only one in four local authorities will have implemented a charging schedule by the cut-off date.
There is a real concern that the remaining three quarters of local authorities will not be in a position to secure appropriate planning obligations from developers in their area and as a consequence the determination of applications in those areas may be significantly delayed.
Since the proposed introduction of the CIL in 2009, discussion of the possible (and even at times probable) abandonment of that regime in favour of a return to section 106 agreements has been part of the narrative. Whilst that prospect cannot be discounted, the regular amendments which have been made to the Regulations strongly indicate that the present Government has no intention to discard the CIL regime.