4 February 2015, The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), introduced in April 2010, allows local councils in England and Wales to fund infrastructure by adopting a charge related to the size and type of the new developments in their area. It is designed to be a more efficient and transparent system for the development industry.
Whilst not compulsory for councils to adopt CIL, from 6 April 2015 significant changes to powers to require contributions through Section 106 (S106) planning obligations come into effect.
Councils will be more limited in the way they can require development contributions through S106 obligations. S106 will still apply for affordable housing and site specific improvements but contributions will not be able to be pooled for more than five sites to fund other types of infrastructure. This means that where, for example, education or open space contributions have been sought five or more times in a locality through S106 (since 6 April 2010) they cannot be sought this way again. In many cases councils will already have used up their allocations.
Some councils do now have a CIL charging structure in place but it is anticipated that the majority will not by the April deadline. Since CIL contributions cannot be sought prior to adoption, it remains to be seen how councils, that will not have an adopted CIL charging structure in place after 6 April 2015, will address this difficulty and whether they will consider refusing planning applications or be forced to waive contributions.