Community Infrastructure Levy

This article was published in 2013, in Newsletter 111.

We’re going to hear more about a new acronym, CIL, over the coming years.

Cambridge City Council is currently consulting about a new levy on development called the Community Infrastructure Levy, or CIL for short.¹ This allows for a one-off tax on new building (over 100 square metres) at a published rate. Their draft proposes £12,500 for a modestly sized new house, for example. This is of interest to us because one of the key uses is for transport projects (as well as schools, health care and community premises and green space). The current consultation ends on 9 December and is about the level of the charges, not the principle, which has already been decided.

CIL additional to Section 106

The CIL tax is in addition to Section 106 agreements. This long-standing part of the planning process covers mitigation for problems caused by the new development, and this too can include transport. Because it is about the effect of the new development, except for exceptionally large ones, the money usually has to be spent very locally. A typical example is to provide access roads and improved junctions, or a cycleway through a development. CIL, on the other hand, can be spent over a wide area, so the larger effects of having a city with more people or more shops can be financed. So, for example, a new development on the edge of the city along Fulbourn Road could help pay for a station on the Newmarket line, or an extension to the Guided Bus. Or, of course, a new cycleway into the city.

One of the problems with Section 106 agreements in the past has been lack of accountability. While council-generated schemes might be consulted on in minute detail, we have in the past found new junctions and roads popping up with no consultation at all, simply because they were paid for out of Section 106 money. As Section 106 agreements are still likely to happen, this problem may well continue. However, because it looks as though this new tax will go into a central pot used to fund generally relevant schemes, we would hope these would go through normal consultative processes.

One particular area which has some very positive ready-made proposals that would benefit from CIL funding is around and to the east of Elizabeth Way roundabout (the so called Eastern Gate Development Framework², see Newsletter 97).

The rates proposed by the City Council are £125 per square metre of new residential space including student accommodation, but not social housing, (which they estimate might yield around £1.3m a year) and £75 per square metre for retail (but nothing for any other development, so a football ground would be exempt, for example).

David Earl