Mayor Johnson must lobby the Government for additional guidance on the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). He also needs to provide better London-specific guidance to local authorities within the capital. The Assembly Planning Committee, which I chair, made these points in its response to the Mayor’s draft guidance.
The draft Supplemental Planning Guidance (SPG) is intended to help boroughs with establishing their charging schedule. However, based on our extensive investigation, the Planning Committee identified important ways in which the SPG fails to provide the guidance boroughs need.
CIL – a charge local authorities levy on developers to pay for things like parks, schools, and health centres – is currently being drafted by councils throughout England. Our boroughs are unique in that London is the only place in the country where developers will face two CIL charges: one from the local authority, and on top of that a Mayoral CIL.
The Committee called on the Mayor to lobby the Government for further guidance that local authorities are calling for.
And while further instruction is needed from Government, the Mayor must do his part to provide better London-specific guidance to help boroughs navigate the unique circumstances of setting CIL in London. As drafted the SPG fails in particular to offer sufficient help in three essential areas: viability; cross-boundary projects; and the impact of CIL on affordable housing.
Setting CIL is a balancing act. Local authorites need to raise as much as possible pay for social and other infrastructure in the area. However, they can’t set the levy so high that development becomes too expensive and comes to a halt. Local authorities have told us they need more guidance on this so-called ‘viability’ issue. The SPG briefly addresses it, but only to note that London boroughs need to also factor in the Mayoral CIL. The SPG should go further in offering a tool to help local authorities calculate viability.
The draft guidance also fails to address cross-boundary projects. It must be as concerned with the way boroughs interact with one another as with how they work with the GLA. The physical closeness of London boroughs to one another means that local authorities must work closely to develop infrastructure between them. For example, a local tram which goes from one borough to another would ideally be part-funded by CIL; however, there are no clear systems in place to encourage such a project. The Mayor could and should facilitate cross-boundary infrastructure of this sort.
Finally, the SPG must do more on the affordable housing issue. The impact of CIL on affordable housing funding has been one of the most contentious issues surrounding the new levy, but the SPG fails to provide the full range of guidance boroughs need. For example, the SPG should expand its affordable housing material to highlight the need for boroughs to consider the implications of their proposed amount of CIL levels in relation to the additional amount they expect to raise for affordable housing. Boroughs must closely monitor affordable housing contributions and delivery following the introduction of CIL, as a noticeable reduction in affordable housing contributions could indicate for a review of their CIL.
The committee will release a fuller report documenting the findings of our CIL investigation later this year.