The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will soon be the way that Developers pay for necessary infrastructure and facilities that result from the building of houses, or other new buildings over 100sq metres, in an area. For example, a new estate such as Naylor Jennings means that highway improvements need to be made to Green Lane, so this is paid for out of CIL. The building of new houses, or a school, may also mean that new green space for amenities has to be made available, or a variety of other services and facilities.
Previously, such improvements were done through Section 106 agreements made before a development took place into different categories eg offsite playspace, travel plans – the money was collected by Leeds City Council to spend on the agreed upgrades eg traffic cameras or bus stops or playspace.
Under the new CIL arrangement, there will be a blanket charge on new developments such as £90 per sq metre of housing in our area (there is a scale of charges depending on the area the south of Leeds is £45 per sq metre). The money is liable as soon as planning permission is granted and paid out in stages as a development progresses, not one lump sum, and is then used for infrastructure improvements that arise as a result of the new development, eg road improvements. It cannot be used for infrastucture that is needed BEFORE the development starts.
Leeds City Council will keep 85% of the money so raised, and will give the local community 15% of it TO BE SPENT ON IMPROVEMENTS ARISING AS A RESULT OF THE DEVELOPMENT. This 15% either goes to a Parish Council, a Neighbourhood Forum, or if there is neither then it has, by law, to be spent in agreement with the Local Community. Technically the Leeds 85% should also be spent on improvements arising from a development, but it does not have to be spent in the community iteself. So for example, money raised from housing development in Aireborough could be used to fund A65 improvements downstream in Kirkstall: that is for Leeds City Council to decide, local communities have no say, apart from through our City Councillors.
However, if an area has an adopted neighbourhood development plan in place, done by a Neighbourhood Forum or a Parish Council, then the area gets 25% of the CIL TO BE SPENT ON IMPROVEMENTS ARISING AS A RESULT OF THE DEVELOPMENT. The qualifying body is the one designated to do the neighbourhood development plan.
This is just one of the reasons why the Aireborough Neighbourhood Development Forum has worked hard to both become a designated body and to start putting together a neighbourhood development plan. (Our main aim and purpose has always been to help local people to input into the shaping of Aireborough as we would like to see it, bearing in mind the overdevelopment there has been in the area in the past decade or two.)
The stage we have now reached in the Aireborough Neighbourhood Plan is doing a master plan in conjunction with Watson Batty, based on all the evidence we have gathered since December 2012, on what people like, dislike and want in the area. In addition, to evidence on need for developments such as housing, retirement homes, green space, and the situation on our roads and in our schools. That work is ongoing, it is all done voluntarily by a variety of people who have stepped forward to take on this challenge on behalf of the community.
Anyone can join the Aireborough Forum and help put the plan together, anyone can input their views to the plan. Once done the neighbourhood plan has to be examined by a Planning Inspector, and it has to be put to a referendum for the whole community to approve or not.
So, to sum up the CIL is only payable if the area takes more new housing development or large buildings such as a school; how we do that is still to be decided. If for example local people decided that we want to offer people self-build opportunities, then no CIL would be payable as that is an exempt category, as is housing built by not-for-profit organizations or affordable housing. So, if in the neighbourhood plan, the community decided to allocate land for a combination of self-buld and affordable homes built by a housing association, because our need is for flexible homes to accommodate people as they get older, and low price homes for young and single people, then there would be no CIL payable. Infrastrucure would be provided for by money raised via other grants, local government and government funding.
There is also the issue that many site allocations in Aireborough are greenbelt, and the Government has categorically said that greenbelt boundaries can only be changed in exceptional circumstances. So, we may not have the land to build 2,300 more houses and all the infrastructure needed eg schools. Then there is the question of sustainability, and the balance of infrastructure needed now, let alone for any further development.
If CIL is paid, then it can only be spent by a body designated to do the neighbourhood development plan, in line with the needs of the community arising from a development. And those needs will have been determined by the neighbourhood plan itself. The accounts of the designated body, a Neighbourhood Forum or a Parish council have to be audited by Leeds City Council once a year. And, the Neighbourhood Forum or Parish Council can elect to ask Leeds to administer their part of the CIL as they do not have the means to do it professionally – Leeds can charge for this, and they can take a percentage to start with for collecting it. In the case of the Neighbourhood Forum that means all members having a say on who administers the CIL due to the area, in the case of a Parish Council that is the council members.
Finally, CIL is not the only source there is for the funding of infrastructure – others include government and EU grants, as well as money put aside for national infrastructure requirements.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions you would like us to try to answer on this. Or if you would like to become a member of the Forum.