Pay up to build in North Somerset

COMPANIES looking to build in North Somerset will only be allowed to do so if they are prepared to stump up towards other community projects too.

Schemes like roads, schools and flood defences could all benefit under new rules, akin to a development tax, which are set to be introduced.

Financial contributions towards such infrastructure have long been solicited from house-buildings and commercial developers under what were called Section 106 agreements.

However, under those old rules the amount has been decided on a case-by-case basis, and money has often been ringfenced towards a specific project.

A new shake-up of rules means a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is being introduced across England and Wales, standardising the amount payable and giving local authorities greater control over how the money is spent.

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The CIL can be calculated according to the physical footprint of new projects.

North Somerset Council’s executive member for planning, Elfan Ap Rees, says the new spending flexibility is a step forward.

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He said: “The benefits of CIL are that as it will be a standard fixed charge both the council and developers will be clear about how much will need to be paid.

“Payments must be used to ‘support development’, but are not ringfenced to specific planning applications, projects or locations.

“This provides a flexibility in pooling and spending development contributions that is not possible under the current Section 106 regime.”

Section 106 agreements could still be used on major developments, where cash contributions will be needed to mitigate the effects of the project.

However, only affordable housing schemes and charity buildings will be exempt from the CIL, which is expected to be introduced next spring.

This will follow a public consultation over the appropriate size of charges, which will take place throughout August and September.

North Somerset’s draft proposals will then be subject to external scrutiny in the early part of 2013, with the new rules expected to come into force on April 1.

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