The Community Infrastructure Levy is a planning charge, introduced by the Planning Act 2008 as a tool for local authorities in England and Wales to help deliver infrastructure to support the development of their area. You might well ask what community, what infrastructure, and what levy, because in the hands of our bureaucrats it isn’t what it seems. For example, it is for parks, but not a Burscough park associated with the Yew Tree Farm homes!
And local planning authorities can use CIL money to provide or improve infrastructure but not flood mitigation, and to pay for the operation and maintenance of this infrastructure. They can use it for libraries, health facilities, community centres, public realm, and leisure centres.
From April 2013 15% of the Community Infrastructure Levy revenue collected by the Local Authority is passed directly to those Parish and Town Councils where development has taken place. In areas where CIL is collected, the amount of CIL passed on is capped at £100 per existing council tax dwelling per year. In West Lancashire 80% of the CIL monies collected will be used for strategic infrastructure, 15% of the CIL monies collected will be given to parish councils for use on local infrastructure, and 5% of the CIL monies collected are used to fund some of the costs of the administration of CIL
West Lancashire Borough Council invited comments on the CIL Funding Programme proposals between 5 October and 3 November 2017. The consultation sought comments on how the unallocated strategic CIL monies received 2017/18 should be spent in 2018/19, and what projects they should be spent on.
As expected, many of the schemes suggested are “not appropriate for CIL funding because they are not an item listed on the R123 list /are not “infrastructure”. The Regulation 123 list (R123) sets out what the Council must spend CIL on, and is designed to prevent Councils from double-charging developers for infrastructure. Flood defences are excluded from the R123 list and so CIL monies cannot be used to deliver flood mitigation, instead that must be secured through planning conditions or planning obligations on specific sites. Subsequently, CIL cannot be used to fund flood mitigation or prevention.
“CIL must be spent on infrastructure required to support new development. Therefore it cannot be used to remedy existing infrastructure deficiencies, unless they would be made worse by new development”. In addition, some of the suggestions received do not fall within the definition of infrastructure. CIL cannot be used to tarmac resident parking areas, nor can it be used on signage, or insuring existing leisure areas, or to pay for litter picking. No surprise there, how often are signs broken and go unrepaired, and when was litter picked recently in West Lancashire other than by volunteers such as the 15 bags picked up in Skelmersdale a few days ago?
In its latest CIL report, Aughton Parish Council, which loves its big unused reserve balances, brought forward £2,771 from 2015/16 and added that to £4,584 for 2016/17. So we, the community, now have £7,356 in the CIL retained unspent bank. Isn’t it silly not to spend it on our Aughton neighbourhood public realm? NB Aughton Parish Council announced a further notification of CIL receipts in October 2017 = £14,214.58, so we now have £21,570 to spend, or save, or just ignore?