Guidance has been revised with the active participation of councils and developers to provide certainty on key issues. It has been updated to reflect reforms to the planning system and will help councils looking to introduce the levy, as well as providing clarity to those paying the levy about how it works.
Importantly the guidance ensures there is no double charging to developers by clarifying the relationship between the levy and Section 106 planning obligations.
The guidance reflects existing best practice and ensures councils in the process of developing proposals do not need to start their levy setting process from the beginning. Support will be available to councils who choose to review their levy as a result of the new guidance.
It ensures a robust evidence base is used for assessing levy rates and provides advice on the 2012 regulations that improve the operation of the levy. The guidance also makes clear that there is no obligation for councils to charge the levy, and that they can set a low or zero rate if they wish.
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 government will continue to listen to issues being raised, such as the need for greater clarity at an earlier stage on how the levy will be spent. We will also be considering the suggestion to move the 2014 date when councils will be limited in their use of pooled Section 106 planning obligations for infrastructure that can be funded by the levy. The government expects to consult on further regulatory changes in the new year.
The Community Infrastructure Levy has the potential to raise an estimated £1 billion a year of funding by 2016 to support growth locally. It gives councils more choice and flexibility in how they fund the infrastructure that their communities want and need, and provides developers with much more ‘up front’ certainty about the amount of money they will be expected to contribute for development.
Liz Peace from the British Property Federation said:
“The development industry has raised a number of concerns about the Community Infrastructure Levy. We have been closely involved in the development of this document and are pleased that it clearly sets out what local authorities must do when they are looking to charge the levy. These revisions should help support development by ensuring the levy is being implemented effectively. We look forward to continuing our work with the department on other Community Infrastructure Levy issues next year.”
Councillor Mike Jones, Leader, Cheshire West and Chester Council said:
“Councils are keen to continue work with the development industry in a positive and productive way that enables much needed development to take place in a way that is fair and equitable to developers and to local people. Discussions on the Community Infrastructure Levy have been conducted in this spirit.”
Home Builders Federation Executive Chairman Stewart Baseley said:
“We have been closely involved in the process to improve the Community Infrastructure Levy guidance. We are pleased that it assists in clarifying the relationship between the levy and Section 106 planning obligations and sets out the importance of robust evidence and transparency when deciding on levy rates.”
The government recently introduced changes to ensure planning applicants no longer face the threat of being double charged the Community Infrastructure Levy. Applicants will be able to amend planning conditions on existing consents (via a Section 73 planning application) without having to pay another levy on the same development.