Update on Community Infrastructure Levy and decision to hold in abeyance in light of the Government's Planning Reforms
To provide an update on the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in West Oxfordshire in light of the previous public consultation held in July 2020 and the Government’s subsequent proposed planning reforms announced through the Planning White Paper in August 2020 and Queen’s Speech of May 2021.
a) That the report be noted; and
b) That any further progress in relation to the submission and examination of West Oxfordshire’s draft CIL Charging Schedule be held in abeyance until further information on the Government’s proposed planning reforms have been set out in the forthcoming Planning Bill.
Members received a report from the Planning Policy Manager which provided an update on the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in West Oxfordshire, in light of the previous public consultation held in July 2020 and the Government’s subsequent proposed planning reforms, announced through the Planning White Paper in August 2020 and Queen’s Speech of May 2021.
The report reminded Members that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was a charge that could be levied on most forms of development, to help fund the infrastructure that was needed to support the future growth of an area. CIL was intended to complement the current system of Section 106 planning obligations.
Members had considered a charging schedule in February 2020, which was then the subject of a six week, public consultation. The consultation was deferred from July 2020 to 21 August 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the responses received were made available to Members.
During the consultation, the Government published its Planning White Paper “Planning for the Future” which set out proposals to improve infrastructure delivery and would ensure that developers played their part through a reform of developer contributions. The paper stated that CIL and the current system of planning obligations (Section 106 agreements etc.) would be reformed as a nationally set, value-based flat rate charge (the ‘Infrastructure Levy’). Subsequently, the Queen’s speech confirmed the Government’s intention to take these proposals forward through a new Planning Bill, expected to be published in Autumn 2021.
Therefore, officers felt that it would be prudent to hold any further progress towards submission and examination of the Council’s draft CIL charging schedule in abeyance, until the Planning Bill had been published.
An alternative option was that Cabinet could choose to continue as originally planned but, due to the lack of detail and information available from central Government at the present time, this was not considered to be an effective use of officer time.
The Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Councillor Haine, introduced the report and proposed the recommendations as laid out. This was seconded by Councillor MacRae.
In response to a question from Councillor Cooper relating to the impact this decision would have on the review of the Local Plan, Councillor Haine confirmed that work on the review was due imminently. Mr Hargreaves addressed the meeting and advised that the current programme of works on the Local Plan showed that the initial review was due to commence in November and it was hoped more information would be available on the Government Bill by then. However, he advised that the initial works would focus mainly on high level scoping, with officers seeking views on the process, therefore, the detailed work on the Local Plan would begin at a later date.
Councillor Graham asked for clarification on the term ‘affordable housing’ and queried if this included social housing. Councillor Haine advised that social housing was just one of many forms of affordable housing covered and agreed that a list, elaborating on the types of housing covered, could be included.
Having considered the report, and having heard from the Members present, Cabinet
a) the report be noted; and
b) any further progress in relation to the submission and examination of West Oxfordshire’s draft CIL Charging Schedule be held in abeyance until further information on the Government’s proposed planning reforms have been set out in the forthcoming Planning Bill.