CIL is Turning 6. Who Will Come to the Party?

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is now six years old and like any six year old child, CIL has had its teething problems. There are lessons to learn. Its future potential remains uncertain.

My aim in this blog (and my forthcoming paper) is to start a conversation about how CIL can make a meaningful contribution to the local infrastructure gap as it starts to mature.

Most things in life need to be paid for and there is never enough money to go around. The amount that society should contribute towards providing for others (and/or mitigating the negative consequences of its actions) is a matter of political approach. However, few would disagree that developers should contribute to the costs associated with development. After all, the value of their developments depends, to some extent, upon the quality of the supporting local infrastructure.

CIL was introduced as an optional tariff to capture uplift in land value following the grant of planning permission. The tool was seen as a way of unlocking additional funding for infrastructure required to deliver and ensure the long-term future of sustainable communities. The intention was to create a mechanism that was simpler, fairer and transparent providing an element of certainty (and comfort) for developers as to levels of contribution required.

As with so many planning initiatives, the successes of CIL will almost certainly hinge upon its ability to generate confidence and consensus amongst stakeholders (in an environment where consensus is a tall order). In terms of who is coming to CIL’s 6th birthday party, the invite list is growing only slowly – Local Authorities with small sites that would not have been liable for s.106 will be snapping up their invitations; Developers will possibly just “pencil” the party in (paying both s.106 and CIL contributions may affect their willingness to buy a present); Local authorities, may have to refuse as they have too much administrative work to do and community representatives, may just not be able to get there because of traffic on the clogged up roads.

Like any 6 year old child facing challenges and hurdles as it grows, CIL has faced (and continues to face) its challenges. The relationship between s.106 contributions and the levy, is an ongoing discussion (with particular concerns being raised over possible impacts on affordable housing provision and housing delivery); there is  wide disparity over the geographical implementation of CIL with far fewer authorities in the North of England implementing the schedules. There are wide and varying exemptions available from the charge which creates knock on resource implications for administering authorities and sub- optimal relationships between tiered authorities cause huge administration difficulties.

In terms of results and how well this six year old is doing – it is school report time for CIL. The Government review is under way and we await to see the grades it gets for each of its objectives.

This is why Planning Futures has decided to join in this child’s assessment at this particular moment in time. What is CIL’s potential and ability to deliver its objectives? How can it expend its circle of friends and supporters to make its journey onwards that much more successful and pleasant?

Our forthcoming paper will explore these issues and provide some answers to those questions.

Hannah David

Hannah is a Director at Planning Futures

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