Agenda item

Community Infrastructure Levy Governance & Section 106 engagement

Report of the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services


The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the report, noting that it would be voted on at June Council. The proposed new governance arrangements covered all aspects of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) developer contributions, and proposed a scheme for greater transparency in the handling of Section 106 agreements.


He noted that the council was currently allowed to charge up to 5% for admin, which was then pooled, but in the new arrangements they could vote to retain some of it as Cheltenham administration costs if the amount of CIL money grew sufficiently to enable that. Further to this, he noted the 15% or 25% neighbourhood allocation that went to parish councils (depending on whether they had a Neighbourhood Plan) and that governance arrangements had been added for the element of this allocation that was from unparished areas. It suggested a process whereby a panel of seven elected members ideally reflecting a political balance would prioritise projects for the benefit of the community.


The report also outlined governance arrangements for the larger and more complicated strategic allocation pot, which constituted about 70-80% of CIL monies. The current arrangement was to pool that with other Joint Core Strategy (JCS) authorities, so the process had to be compatible with that going forward. The report made a concrete commitment for this council to vote on the final CIL allocation, taking the form of an infrastructure list, comprising both the shared element and uniquely Cheltenham elements.


The government had also published a memorandum of understanding which outlined good practice in deciding how much was pooled and how much was not, which Council would also vote on in June. He added that the arrangements for a strategic CIL board would be determined at JCS level. Finally, the report outlined governance arrangements for the handling of S106 agreements between the council and developers. While S106 agreements were a legal requirement, so the council’s ability to influence the process was limited, it was proposed that Members would be obligated to suggest possible candidates for S106 funds in their wards, and for case officers to notify the relevant ward Members early in the process so they had the opportunity to input into it. He emphasised that they had taken a belt and braces approach throughout to cover every possible eventuality, and aimed to ensure a democratic, safe and accountable process.


The Leader added that she had recently attended a Joint Core Strategy Member Liaison Working Group, and noted that its name was due to change to the Joint Strategic Plan.


The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities asked about the implications for funding in wards that were divided between parished and non-parished areas. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that 70-80% of CIL money from any area would go into the strategic pool to benefit the community as a whole, which included non-parished areas. While the 15% or 25% neighbourhood allocation automatically went to the parish council in a parished area, in an unparished area it would from now on be overseen by the elected neighbourhood panel, and anyone would be free to bid into this. Officers would take into account the parish status of areas to ensure fair allocation of funds.


The Cabinet Member Safety and Communities asked about developments which crossed the border, for example into Tewkesbury. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that if it were outside Cheltenham, then the relevant neighbourhood allocation would not come to the borough. This demonstrated the importance of collaborative working with Tewkesbury and Gloucester to ensure that benefits were shared. He was happy to confirm any technicalities with officers and get back to her outside of the meeting.


The Cabinet Member Culture, Wellbeing and Business asked when the bid process for the neighbourhood panels would be opened. The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services responded that there was no exact timetable yet, but that he would consult officers about setting out a realistic timeline.


The Cabinet Member Finance and Assets thanked the Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services for his work on this topic, and stressed the need to enable communities to support themselves.


The Leader moved to the vote, where it was unanimously:


1.       The percentage split of CIL, in accordance with the CIL Regulations as set out in Fig 1, be noted;

2.       The governance approach for the strategic (non-neighbourhood) CIL monies be agreed, including the preparation of the Infrastructure List as set out at section 2 of this report, and engagement with Gloucester City Council and Tewkesbury Borough Council on any shared infrastructure spending, which ensures that the Cheltenham Cabinet and Council has final approval;

3.       Collaborative work be undertaken with Gloucester and Tewkesbury Councils on developing a spending mechanism for any shared CIL spending to be agreed by Cheltenham Cabinet and Council;

4.       The governance approach as set out at section 4 of this report in regard to the unparished neighbourhood element of CIL be agreed;

5.       The Head of Planning, in consultation with the Cabinet portfolio holder and Head of Finance, undertake an annual review of the CIL administration element and for this spending to be agreed annually by Cabinet as part of the Infrastructure Statement Annual Report;

6.       The proposal as set out in section 6 of this report to build enhanced transparency and engagement with ward members on S106 be agreed.

Supporting documents: