New planning guidance was published by the Government on Sunday 1 September regarding the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in light of recent amendments made to the CIL Regulations. One of the key changes made is the revocation of Regulation 123 (see here for our recent blog on this), which provided that a development could not be required to pay a planning contribution in relation to infrastructure where CIL had been identified as responsible for funding its delivery, and restricted the pooling of funds towards specific pieces of infrastructure. In connection with this amendment, which allows authorities to choose to use funding from different sources towards the same infrastructure, a new requirement has been inserted into the CIL Regulations requiring charging authorities to publish an “infrastructure funding statement”.
The infrastructure funding statements are required to set out the infrastructure projects or types of infrastructure that the authority intends to fund, either wholly or partly, by the levy or planning obligations, though this will not dictate how funds must be spent and in turn collected. These statements will become increasingly important for developers who wish to understand what the appropriate level of planning obligations payable in relation to a development is, and in particular the types of planning obligations that should properly be payable in relation to that development based on what is outlined in the statement and what should properly be funded by the CIL it pays. Importantly, it is possible for an infrastructure funding statement to identify that an item of infrastructure may be funded by both CIL and by planning obligations.
The infrastructure funding statements are non-binding and thus will likely result in a lot of negotiation regarding the types of planning obligations that should be payable before a developer can fully understand the quantum of the applicable planning obligations/CIL. This will make assessing the viability of a development, and in particular determining the land value for a site following updates to viability guidance and approach over the last 18 months more strictly requiring land values to be calculated taking planning obligations/CIL into account, even more difficult.
However, the immediate problem would appear to be that the first infrastructure funding statements are not required to be published until 31 December 2020, so until then what the split should be between planning obligations/CIL will be opaque, with Regulation 122 likely to be increasingly relied upon (by all parties) to determine when a planning obligation is appropriate. Further, whilst an authority “must” publish an infrastructure funding statement, there is no penalty included in the CIL Regulations for not doing so.
The potential positive impact of the changes is that it will allow a developer and the authority more freedom to confirm the infrastructure to be funded by the overall contribution to be made in connection with the development, and give authorities more freedom to direct funds to immediate infrastructure needs to unlock sites and provide a greater certainty of delivery. However, taking into account one of the main complaints regarding CIL was the lack of delivery of infrastructure using CIL monies, which is likely as a result of issues beyond the effect of the now revoked Regulation 123, it’s very much a “watch this space” to see if those potential positives can be realised.
Author: Martyn Jarvis, senior associate, planning, London