Community Infrastructure Levy Governance & Section 106 engagement
Report of the Leader and Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services
The Cabinet Member Customer and Regulatory Services presented the joint report and recorded his thanks to the Leader, Chief Executive and the Director of community and economic development for their contributions.
He reminded Members that CIL was created some years ago to supplement and partly replace S106 agreements, which still persist. Developer contributions were extracted for the benefit of the community and was a complex process. Officers had been requested to keep the process under review, with respect to the levelling up and regeneration bill.
In excess of £1 m had been amassed from CIL charging to date. It was now important and timely to put governance arrangements in place to facilitate the allocation of this money.
The Cabinet Member advised Council that Cabinet had approved XXX and there was now enhanced transparency for S106 processes. He outlined the three elements of CIL as follows:
- 80 % allocation for strategic infrastructure- shared with Tewkesbury and Gloucester via the Joint Strategic Plan (JSP). He believed strongly that the future infrastructure list should reflect the emphasis of this Council on climate change and the environment and could include a wider range of infrastructure including health and education. A Memorandum of Understanding would be created to ensure there was transparency in the democratic and JSP processes and Council would have a vote on the final infrastructure list.
- 15% - 25% neighbourhood allocation - spending within the neighbourhood of contributing development (in the case of the 15% that a Parish Council, without an adopted Neighbourhood Plan, must receive, this is up to a maximum of £100 per existing Council Tax paying dwelling). This allocation must be transferred to the relevant parish council or an upcapped 15% is retained by the Borough Council to be spent on neighbourhood projects where the development is not in a parish. The transferred allocation rises to an upcapped 25% when a parish or Neighbourhood Forum has a ‘made’ (adopted by Borough Council) Neighbourhood Plan in place. No Cheltenham parish or forum has a Neighbourhood Plan in place at the current time, although plans are being developed at Hester’s Way Neighbourhood Forum and Leckhampton with Warden Hill Parish Council.
- 5% allocation to use to offset costs of CIL administration
The Cabinet Member highlighted that half of the borough lay in unparished areas and a governance process was required in those areas to allocate how the 15% of CIL generated in those areas would be allocated. A 7-Member neighbourhood panel was therefore proposed which would reflect political balance and comprise representation of such unparished areas of the town. This would set the priority funding projects for CIL allocation.
In terms of existing S106 agreements which are technical and legal agreements between the developer and planning officer, acting on legal advice, Councillors often feel that historically they appear without their input . A governance process was now proposed that where there is a possibility of a S106 agreement the planning officer would consult local members in that ward in advance, before the agreement is finalised.
Finally, the Cabinet Member believed these were a timely set of proposals which would provide democratic opportunities for elected members to have their say.
In response to questions the following responses were provided:
- The neighbourhood panel would be constituted this year so neighbourhood funds should also be deployed within this calendar year. Allocations would be prioritised by the panel, supported by officers.
- There would be a proper process of prioritisation with an open and transparent bidding process and it was acknowledged that communities would need supporting
- Deploying strategic infrastructure allocations would take a lot longer but it was hoped that a balanced infrastructure list would come forward in due course. Council would vote on the list, as outlined in the agreed Memorandum of Understanding. The Leader was a representative on the JSP process.
- Funding was available from government to assist unparished areas to develop neighbourhood forums and neighbourhood plans Count Councillors and Borough Councillors would be consulted on S106 funding allocation
- It was noted that communities should be alerted to funding available for public art
- The CIL process was determined by government regulation and it was acknowledged that safeguards were needed for very small parishes.
- Highlighted the importance of CIL and S106 being of benefit across communities in the borough
In the debate that ensued Members made the following comments:
- It was recognised that where a ward did not have a neighbourhood plan required a lot of ambition and it took considerable time and community involvement
- Consultation with ward Members in respect of S106 funding was welcomed
- The Leader stated that those not represented by a Parish Council or a neighbourhood plan would be actively encouraged to join the neighbourhood panel to ensure it was as wide and as diverse as possible
- There was a request that community groups be alerted in good time.
What constitutes the shared element of the strategic allocation would come back to Council for a vote, but would also be considered by the other 2 JSP councils.
Finally, the Leader undertook to keep Members updated prior to the final decision coming to full Council in due course.
RESOLVED (unanimously) THAT
1. The recommendations agreed by Cabinet 5th April 2022 as set out in section 8 of this report and listed in the Executive summary above be endorsed.
2. Officers keep under review Regulations arising from the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and to report back to Cabinet as required.