This is entry number 272, published on 5 September 2011, of a blog on the Planning Act 2008 infrastructure planning and authorisation regime. Click here for a link to the whole blog.

Today’s entry reports on latest developments with the Community Infrastructure Levy.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL - 'sill') is introduced by the Planning Act 2008 but is not part of the infrastructure planning and authorisation regime.  It therefore receives intermittent attention in this blog, since although not part of the regime, it is the Planning Act blog after all, and nationally significant infrastructure projects will sometimes have to pay, and could potentially receive, CIL.

The concept of CIL is to replace the ad hoc and opaque arrangements for new developments having to make a contribution to infrastructure costs via s106 agreements with a more transparent tariff system.  Local authorities will have a published 'charging schedule' that says what types of development in which locations will pay a fixed amount per square metre towards infrastructure if they are given planning permission and the permission is implemented.

In terms of applicability to infrastructure, CIL is only charged on buildings to which the public generally have access, so some is caught, e.g. an airport, but most is not, e.g. a power line.  Permitted development powers do not avoid the need to pay CIL. Nationally significant infrastructure comes within the definition of things that CIL can be spent on, but local authorities are not very likely to do so, preferring to concentrate on more local infrastructure that is needed as a result of the developments that are paying CIL.

What charging schedules look like

So what charging schedules are out there and what do they look like?  I speculated two years ago about this in this blog entry.  Now there are around 10 draft charging schedules in existence, although none of them has been finalised yet, so CIL is not actually payable yet anywhere.  The council furthest towards adoption is Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, which recently received the report of the inspector of his examination into the draft charging schedule, more on which in a moment.

There is not much consistency between the draft charging schedules so far available.  The main differences are as follows:

  • Some divide their areas into zones, others do not.
  • Some have a default charge for everything, and then individual departures from the default for certain types of development, others assume a zero charge unless otherwise specified.
  • Several councils have different rates for small and large retail developments, with different threshold between small and large.

Click here to see what I believe to be the first comparative table summarising the main differences, including the rates that have been proposed for residential development.

The pan-London CIL will be payable on top of the CIL that each borough (Croydon, Redbridge and Wandsworth) is planning to charge.  Links to the draft charging schedules themselves can be found on the blog links page.

Two interesting developments

The Newark and Sherwood inspector approved the charging schedule in principle, but concluded in his report  that the council had not given enough evidence on the split between small and large retail and has modified the schedule so that there is a single retail rate.  He did not say that CIL was incapable of being charged differently to different sizes of retail, but the other councils doing this would do well to check their evidence.

The other interesting development is that Newark and Sherwood lodged an objection to Shropshire's draft charging schedule (here).  N&S don't like the zero rate being proposed by Shropshire for commercial developments, nor the simple two-zone system with a £40/£80 residential split.  N&S are mindful that the first few charging schedules may set a nationwide trend and they want to nip this approach in the bud.