Tuesday, January 27, 2015

News: New levy to raise £12m to support Rotherham's infrastructure


Developers wanting to build houses and out of town retail projects in the Rotherham borough will need to pay a levy under a new scheme designed to raise an estimated £12m to support local infrastructure. Office and industrial developments are set to be exempt.

Rotherham's recently adopted core strategy of the Local Plan includes a housing target of 14,371, or 958 dwellings every year over the next 15 years. 235 hectares of land in Rotherham will be needed to meet the broad requirements of 12 - 15,000 additional jobs.

The Planning Act 2008 introduced the concept of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) as a new means for authorities to seek developer contributions to help fund infrastructure and Rotherham Council has been consulting on how it could operate in the borough. Not obligatory, the CIL will, in the most part, replace Section 106 financial contributions and provide a more transparent way of raising money to help pay for the infrastructure required to deliver the Local Plan.

Section 106 legal agreements are signed between developers and the council when planning permission is granted on a site by site basis. They often include funding that can be used for school places, improving the local road network or public transport provision. Section 106 agreements would still be used, where appropriate, to secure affordable housing and on-site mitigation.

A Draft Charging Schedule has been devised by the council that would see housing developers pay different amounts in different areas of the borough, ranging from £55 / sq m in areas like Whiston and Wickersley, to £30 / sq m in the Dearne, and £15 / sq m at Bassingthorpe Farm.

Developers proposing a new supermarket would pay £60 / sq m and the development of Retail Warehouse / Retail Parks would incur £30 / sq m. Business park office, industrial, and town centre comparison retail developments are not considered viable under current market conditions and would not attract any levy.

Studies into the borough's infrastructure concluded that total infrastructure requirements to support the Local Plan are estimated to cost around £99m and with the scarcity of Government funding, only £48.8m funding is anticipated from mainstream or known sources. The estimated income based on the proposed CIL rates is at least £12m.

An initial list of top priority infrastructure schemes that the CIL may be used to fund has been produced. This includes continuing the Rotherham Renaissance Flood Defence Scheme; highway junction improvements on the edge of the town centre, Templeborough, the M18 at Hellaby, and the A631 at Canklow; and improvements to public transport infrastructure on key bus routes. It may also be used for school places, doctor's surgeries, and expansion of police stations and public libraries.

The proposed development on former greenbelt land at Bassingthorpe Farm, where 2,400 houses are set to be built, is still expected to carry its own Section 106 agreement.

David Edwards, senior planning officer at Rotherham Council, said in a cabinet report: "Revenue from CIL has to be ring-fenced for infrastructure but the Council has flexibility to spend on its priority infrastructure to help deliver the development in the Local Plan.

"Failure to introduce a local CIL could severely restrict the Council's ability to ensure that new development contributes to the infrastructure required because of the limitation on pooling s106 agreements which will come into force nationally in April 2015. It is a priority that Rotherham adopts its CIL Charging Schedule as soon as practically possible after this date."

Consultation with key stakeholders has recently ended and the CIL is expected to be adopted as soon as possible.

Images: RMBC


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