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Communities to receive a ‘Bung’ for adopting Neighbourhood Plans.

Community Infrastructure LevyPlanning Minister, Nick Bowles MP, has announced that communities who adopt a neighbourhood plan will receive 25% income from a levy charged on accepted developments. Cheshire-based planning consultancy, Summit Planning Associates, recently considered if Neighbourhood Plans have been having an impact on the planning process.

The principle ethos behind Neighbourhood Plans has been to encourage development by handing powers to local communities to influence development proposals in their areas. There have been concerns that the Neighbourhood Plan would simply be another hurdle in the planning process and that neighbourhood forums would use them as a tool to block development or create difficulties.

The recent announcement by Nick Boles MP has clearly sought to counteract that possibility by stating that those communities who adopt a neighbourhood plan will receive 25 per cent of the income secured from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charged on development approvals that they accept in their areas. This would ensure that communities would see direct benefits from new development within their areas. Self-dubbed the ‘Boles Bung’, the Planning Minister has also stated that local bodies could receive up to £400,000 under this policy. Whilst guidance on what the money could be spent on would follow, the Minister also added that government “did not want to be overly-restrictive”.

Amanda Olley, Managing Director of Summit Planning Associates, stated: “This recent announcement by Nick Boles may sound appealing to local communities if they think that they are going to receive direct financial benefit from accepting new development in their areas.

However, it would seem that in the first instance, this is only going to benefit those communities that adopt neighbourhood plans in Local Authority Areas that have chosen to implement the Community Infrastructure Levy. At this time there are only a handful of charging authorities across England and Wales that have started collecting CIL.”

She continued: “One of the principle motivators behind CIL was to move away from the more restrictive mechanism of Section 106 Agreements, that only allows Local Authorities to spend money secured from planning obligations, on new facilities and infrastructure that directly arise as a result of the contributing development. The funds secured through CIL can be applied much more flexibly by the Local Authority to wider infrastructure needs across their whole area. “

“The commitment to provide local communities with up to 25 per cent of the development contribution pot will have implications for those authorities who have now adopted CIL and set their charging schedules at rates to secure the delivery of identified essential infrastructure across their whole area. It may also have an impact upon whether additional authorities choose to implement CIL at all, if charging schedules have to be set at prohibitively higher rates to offset the diversion of funds to local communities and to avoid a shortfall in essential infrastructure spending.“

Check out a recent article ‘Neighbourhood plans How goes it so far?’

Amanda Olley has been a Chartered Town Planner for 12 years and is an expert in her field. For more information, contact Summit Planning Associates via Tel: 01625 801800 or E-Mail: