What's next for Planning and the Community Infrastructure Levy

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Article

06 July, 2020

There have been a number of seismic changes in the planning and housing market over the past few months. Local authorities, developers and property professionals look set to experience more changes in the near future too.

COVID-19, CIL and the housing market

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a charge that local authorities (if they have published a schedule) may impose on new developments to help fund local infrastructure. The payments under this are usually due once planning is granted.

Cashflow in the early stages of the pandemic was a real issue for developers. The CIL Regulations have no contingency for late payment and there is little allowance for extensions, leaving developers potentially exposed.

In May 2020, the Government issued guidance to local authorities outlining the measures that should be considered. This was to promote a greater degree of flexibility in the approach to payments and enforcements under the existing 2010 regulations, including offering instalment agreements and a temporary relaxation of enforcement.

At the end of June 2020, the Government published a draft amendment of the existing regulations which will likely come into force later in the summer. The intention is to give greater flexibility for authorities to defer CIL payments, to disapply late payment interest and surcharge payments, and to credit interest already charged to developers.

Although the housing market has experienced a spike in interest since the relaxation that allowed "re-opening" of the market, the concern amongst many is that this may not be sustainable. The concerns surrounding the troubles of the high street, and reports of redundancies may negatively impact the housing market at some point. Therefore, locking in further potential assistance with cashflow will come as positive news for developers.

Planning

Taking forward the Prime Minister's vision of "Build, build, build" a new Planning and Business Bill is making its way through Parliament and is currently on its second reading in the House of Lords. The intention is to give more flexibility for developers when applying for permissions. The significant changes look to be: -

  • The extension to permissions that were due to expire between 23 March and 31 December 2020. The new deadline is 1 April 2021. This would also apply to outline planning permissions;
  • A somewhat retrospective review of those permissions that have lapsed since 23 March bringing them back to life, albeit subject to updated environmental approval;
  • An increase in potential site working hours for developers; and
  • Relaxation of certain areas for the hospitality industry such as outdoor seating and licencing. Additionally, the grant of a premises licence may be deemed approved planning in certain areas, to a degree circumventing planning requirements.


The Bill is wide ranging and may not be supported by all during the parliamentary process. However, it is an indication that the Government is listening to the lobbying of the housing and hospitality industries and trying to address some of their concerns.

For more information contact Matthew Jones in our Commercial Property department via email or phone on 01254 222316. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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