The Panel received a report and a presentation which set out the context, tasks and options associated with the proposed review of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) processes in the borough and invited Members’ input.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was a tax on new development that was used to fund the infrastructure required to support development in the borough and ensure that there was no detriment to infrastructure standards caused by intensified use of an area. The levy rates were charged in accordance with the Council’s adopted CIL Charging Schedule (Sept 2013) with rates required to be set at levels that did not result in development becoming unviable.
CIL was allocated as part of annual budget setting process and was reflected in the Capital Programme every financial year. Two main types of CIL existed - Neighbourhood CIL (NCIL) and Borough CIL (BCIL) – the former spent a minimum of 15% of available CIL funds on projects that took into account the views of the local area in which development occurred, while under the latter spent the remainder of the funds anywhere in the borough.
The current CIL process was established 5 years ago (December 2017) and it was considered that there was scope for improvement, including:
· making best use of the available resources
· addressing recent boundary ward changes
· revising processes for identifying and agreeing projects focusing particularly on ameliorating current practices around consultations and online engagement tools
· revising allocations criteria
· reviewing responsibilities within the process to improve clarity and efficiency
In the discussion which followed Members raised a number of comments and questions which were addressed as follows:
1) In response to a comment on getting balance right between wards with substantial CIL funds and those with less so and whether any of these funds would be lost in the context of any broader, borough-wide approach to the allocation of NCIL, officers explained that the one approach used by other boroughs was to apply a combination approach and a thorough assessment would be undertaken of such an approach.
2) Officers were aware of the delay with replacing the bins on Churchfield Road and were working towards a resolution
3) In response to a question on what the key improvements would be, officers advised that these were yet to be determined and would be subject to discussions with stakeholders. They emphasised that the purpose of the review was to accurately evaluate the current process and needs of the local communities and make optimal and most equitable use of the funds available, including where wards have not spent available NCIL and those where there is limited NCIL but potentially suitable projects. A member suggested that efforts should be made to help wards to spend their NCIL funds and any potential reallocation / sharing of funds should be within the same area / neighbouring wards.
4) With regards to a comment on finding the balance between appropriate allocation of funds and creating a more structured process for engaging with residents, the Panel was informed that the mechanisms for consulting on CIL projects would need to be varied to avoid detriment to residents (i.e. those without access to internet, or less formally organised than resident associations) and mitigate potential in order not to disadvantage residents and to minimise risks of digital exclusion. A member also suggested consideration would need to be given to the timing of projects being submitted, evaluated and allocated so that strong projects did not miss out simply because they came forward later than other projects.
The Panel thanked officers for their presentation.
RESOLVED: That the report and presentation be noted.