Community Infrastructure Levy

On 5 August the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government published the latest thinking on the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) proposed by the Planning Bill currently before Parliament.

The paper runs to 99 pages of detailed analysis of the proposals. It is apparent that there is much still to be consulted upon and determined. However, the paper does provide the skeleton for how the CIL will work.

The CIL will be a series of charges based on simple formulae which relate the size of the charge to the size and character of the development paying it. The proceeds of the CIL will be spent on local and sub-regional infrastructure to support the development of the area.

A more detailed analysis will be published in due course.

More on Town and Village Greens

Yet another case on Town and Village Greens has been dealt with by the High Court with the potential for more judicial proceedings to follow.

A campaigner against a residential and leisure scheme in North Yorkshire is to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the High Court refusal to allow registration of part of the site as a Town and Village Green.

The land was formerly a links golf course but had been used not only by golfers but also by the local inhabitants for recreational purposes such as bird watching. However, the court found that the locals had shown "overwhelming deference" to the golfers and therefore had not sufficiently shown use "as of right"; one of the essential criteria.

The judge said that the principle of deference is not determined and that there was a real possibility that the Court of Appeal may be persuaded to a different conclusion.

Affordable housing and the core strategy

Blyth Valley Borough Council has lost a Court of Appeal action which sought to overturn a High Court decision to quash their affordable housing target in its core strategy.

The core strategy contained a target of "at least" 30 per cent affordable housing, based on a housing needs survey carried out some two years previously. Just before the core strategy was examined by a planning inspector, Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) was issued which changed the meaning of "affordable housing" to exclude low-cost market housing. PPS3 also required that targets had to be based on an assessment of their economic viability.

The inspector concluded that the core strategy was sound, there was no evidence to the contrary and in any event, the target was consistent with that in a neighbouring authority.

However, the High Court quashed the target on the basis that the council had failed to carry out a proper assessment of the economic viability in accordance with PPS3. Although the inspector found the core strategy to be "sound", it patently could not be because the only assessment undertaken (the housing needs survey) was based on the old definition of affordable housing, as was that of the neighbouring authority.

The Court of Appeal agreed and ruled that the core strategy was ultra vires.

Tree preservation orders - applications for consent

On 1 October, regulations come into force which require applications for consent for work to preserved trees to be made on a standard application form. This is available on-line from the relevant local authority. The Town and Country Planning (Trees) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 aim to make the process clearer and more efficient.

Where it is claimed that the work is required because the tree is unhealthy or unsafe, or is implicated in property damage, supporting information must be submitted with the application form.

Appeals against the refusal of consent and/or tree replacement notices are to be fast-tracked. The decision will be made by an inspector on the basis only of the information submitted at the time of the application, together with any third party comments received by the local authority. No new information will be taken into account but the inspector will make a site visit in appropriate cases

Superb foresight or just sheer luck?

The appeal court has held that a London borough must pay a landowner one hundred times the market value of a site as compensation for continued use of the land as public open space.

Greenweb invested £30,000 in 2001 in 0.22 acres of a park in Battersea and has been awarded £1.6m compensation.

During the Second World War, the site contained nine three-storey houses which suffered bomb damage and were replaced by four "pre-fabricated" bungalows. These were removed in 1979 and the land became part of the park. In 1988 the land was sold by the Greater London Council as land with residential development potential. In 2000 the council tried to formally acquire the land for recreational purposes. The then owner applied for residential development of the land but the application was dismissed. He sold the land to Greenweb for £30,000.

The site could then only be used for the purpose for which the council was seeking to acquire it and Greenweb agreed to sell the land. Compensation fell to be assessed under the Land Compensation Act 1961.

An obscure section of that Act provides that compensation is to be based on the assumption that planning permission had been granted for the rebuilding of houses damaged during the war. Hence the huge award!

The judges were scathing as to the effect of their decision but found themselves unable to decide the case in any other way.

There will probably be amending legislation very soon. In the meantime, does anyone know of any bomb damaged former housing sites…