Cabinet Portfolio: Jobs and the Local Economy
Strategic Directorate: - Regeneration and Environment
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 20 September 2021 regarding the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) spending protocol. The Planning Policy Manager and the Head of Neighbourhoods attended the meeting to present the report.
The report noted that the Community Infrastructure Levy was a charge that councils could choose to apply to new development in order to raise funds for local infrastructure, such as extra school places, road improvements, improved public transport and better green spaces. It was noted that Rotherham’s CIL Charging Schedule had been adopted by the Council on 7 December 2016 and had come into force on 3 July 2017.
It was noted that CIL was a mandatory charge for certain types of development and was charged on a £ per square metre basis for new development floorspace, with most new development that created net additional floor space of 100 square metres or more, or that created a new dwelling, being potentially liable for the levy. It was noted that there were certain exemptions from the charge that included social housing, self-build housing and domestic extensions.
The report stated in addition to delivering strategic projects across the Borough, that a portion of CIL income that was raised from development (15%) was allocated to be spent in the area where the development that had generated the CIL income had occurred. It was noted that in parished areas this funding was passed to Parish and Town Councils to spend on projects in their area, with the Council having discretion over spend of the neighbourhood portion arising from non-parished areas.
The report detailed the proposed protocol for prioritising and approving the spend of Strategic CIL funds as well as a proposed ward-based approach to the spend of Local CIL arising from development in non-parished areas.
Members asked whether local CIL funds could be used to support the delivery of projects that were being delivered via Housing Hubs. The Head of Neighbourhoods advised that he would seek clarification on this in advance of sending updated guidance to all members.
Members noted the complexity of CIL and requested that officers provide an all-member seminar on CIL in order to increase members knowledge and undertaking of CIL. Members also requested that the seminar covered Section106 planning agreements and information on how these were different to the CIL.
Members noted the 15% of CIL funding that was allocated to Parish and Town Councils as a result of a CIL liable development occuring in their area and asked whether it was possible for Parish and Town Councils to request an additional share of the CIL that had been charged. The Planning Policy Manager advised that neighbouring Parish and Town Councils were able to work together in order to pool the funding received via the CIL in order to deliver projects that would be mutually beneficial for their residents. The Planning Policy Manager stated that in specific circumstances the use of the strategic element of a CIL charge to support the delivery of a project led by a Parish or Town Council could be appropriate, but noted that decisions on such matters were complex and would need to take numerous individual local factors into account. The Head of Neighbourhoods noted that he would always encourage Parish and Town Councils to work closely with their local ward members into order be supported in accessing other possible sources of funding to support the implementation of local projects.
Members asked for clarification on how the funds received by the Council via the charging of CIL were budgeted and accounted for. The Planning Policy Manager advised that he would check with finance colleagues regarding this matter and would provide a response to members outside of the meeting.
Members welcomed the proposals for the procedure for the spending of the local element of the CIL in non-parished areas that would allow local ward members to be involved in the decision-making processes on how the money would be spent in order to support the delivery of local ward priorities.
Members noted that improvements to infrastructure supported by Section106 agreements due to the nature of the scheme tended to be concentrated in the less deprived areas of the Borough as developments in more deprived areas of the Borough were less likely generate large Section106 payments. Members asked whether it was possible that funding generated by the CIL could be directed to where it was needed most, and not just in the vicinity of the development as was the case with funding received from Section106 agreements. The Head of Neighbourhoods reaffirmed that strategic CIL funds could be spent anywhere across the Borough and not just in the vicinity of the development that attracted the CIL charge.
Members noted the proposed procedures for allocating funds received from the strategic element of the CIL to projects across the Borough and how the process was centred around an officer group that would make a recommendation to Cabinet on the spending priorities. Members noted their disappointment that the proposed process did not involve any consultation with ward members on how strategic CIL funding could be spent and asked how ward members could be more involved in the process. The Planning Policy Manager confirmed that the proposed procedures for the allocation of strategic CIL funds did not involve engagement with ward members, noting the spending of strategic CIL funds would be spent on the delivery of longer-term projects to improve infrastructure across the Borough.
The Chair reaffirmed the vital need for ward members to be communicated and consulted with regarding the spending of funding related to developments in their wards. The Chair noted an example where a significant amount of funding that had arisen from a development in her ward had spent on a single project where no communication with ward members had been taken place to advise them how and where the funding would be used.
The Chair thanked the Planning Policy Manager and the Head of Neighbourhoods for attending the meeting and answering member questions.
1. That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2. That further consideration be given to how all elected members can be consulted and engaged with regarding the allocation and prioritisation of Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy funds.
3. That an all-member seminar be delivered in order to provide members with information on the Community Infrastructure Levy, Section106 agreements and on the new processes and protocols for the spending of both Strategic and Local Community Infrastructure Levy funds in their wards.