From CIL to a ‘Community Investment Fund’ – Do Labour’s Plans make sense?

Yesterday Planning reported that

 Labour’s planning spokeswoman Roberta Blackman-Woods said that the party is considering getting rid of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and the current system of planning gain agreements, including section 106 agreements.

This would be replaced by a “community investment fund”, said Blackman-Woods, in which developer contributions would be spent on local infrastructure over a long-term period. The pot would also include government money to be spent on housing, she said.

Does this make sense?

Leaving aside any pointless changes in name for much the same thing, which we have seen much too much in this sector, a single large pot for infrastructure combined with other fundings streams makes sense.

Labour is thinking of pooling housing benefit funding with current housing benefit capital funding, on the lines suggested by the IPPR, this would give a large enough revenue stream to ‘invest to save’.

A key question is whether this would be combined with the single local pot as recommended by the Hesiltine review.  It would make perfect sense to do so and include local transport and regeneration funding in the same pot, as well I would suggest for funding for expansion of school places and capital upgrades of schools, the current systems for which are far to centralised.

The issue then arises as to what scale these should be administered.  It would make sense if this was done at a housing market/travel to work area level, through partnerships that would merge current housing market area partnerships and LEPS.

I would go even further and create a funding structure which would make the duty to cooperate really bite.  In this local revenue government spending for the existing population would be split from all capital and revenue funding for household and population growth and change.  All regulatory services would be self funded through increased fees, and the burden of care funding would revert to the NHA.  In this system local government would avoid the ‘graph of doom’.

In this system a joint SHMA would set out the level of housing need a partnership area would commit to provide for.  It would commit its locally CIL raised funding and bid for the rest through a formula system for government, some arriving on publication of targets, more on publication of plans etc. and the final installment on completion of housing.  This would be a super new homes bonus system if you like.  Development control would be self funded through self set fees, LPAs and PAS have done all the work for this, whilst LPAs would have to bid for funding for development plan making from this fund.  Therefore head in the sand parochial plans simply wouldnt get funded, almost all plan making above the neighborhood level would be joint work.

Please Labour ask for opinions for reform from the sector and stakeholders, but please dont ask only chief planning officers.  These days few dare be more than ciphers for politicians and Turkeys wont vote for Christmas.

As for the idea of ‘saving up’ CIL monies whats the point, the last thing we need economically is more none invested idle balances.

There will always be a need for one off S106 contributions on major schemes, so p[lease dont mess with that.