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Community Infrastructure Levy proposals in Central Bedfordshire affect development prospects

Central Bedfordshire Council is taking forward proposals to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in the authority. The Council feels that it has to progress CIL charging now that restrictions on pooling S106 obligations have come into force.

The Council is proposing a broad range of potential charging rates depending on the location of sites and the scale of development.  The smallest developments, which would previously have been subject to more limited contributions, are likely to be at risk of the greatest financial impact. We frequently find that council assumptions overlook the realities of development costs and local land values.

Sites in some parts of Central Bedfordshire might attract a charge of up to £330 for every square metre of built development – over £31,000 for a 95sqm dwelling.

There are significant risks associated with taking forward CIL without an up-to-date development plan and it may be inappropriate to introduce CIL charging at the present time. There remains a significant question over the total housing requirement, which is likely to be increased, and the strategy for accommodating this across the authority. Housing affordability remains a key issue and the proposed CIL rates could put the viability of achieving sufficient housing delivery at risk.

Optimis Consulting believes that the proposed charging rates for larger residential developments (10 units and over) must reflect the continued constraints on the development sector in-terms of overall costs and the capacity of the industry to deliver a step-change in output. It is also essential that the Council acknowledges the development market around different settlements which might accommodate substantial growth, rather than adopting broader charging zones.

The consultation is taking place now and comments on the Council’s “Draft Charging Schedule” can be provided until 24th August 2015. Once the consultation finishes the Council will review all comments and unless the Council feels it needs to make changes CIL could be introduced early in 2016.

Jon Goodall
Town Planning and Development Consultant

Email: jon@optimis-consulting.co.uk

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