‘It means all they will be building is another Dussindale’ - fears grow that tens of millions of pounds may fail to materialise for roads, schools and services in and around Norwich
Fears are growing that tens of millions of pounds for roads and schools in Greater Norwich might not materialise after a new levy on developers was recommended to be slashed.
Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk councils hoped a new charge on all house building and some business and leisure facilities could raise between £221m to £270m over the next 15 to 20 years.
This would contribute towards infrastructure improvements needed to cope with extra people, traffic and demand on services expected in, around and near Norwich. The councils' aim is to allow 37,000 new properties to be built by 2026.
It is estimated Greater Norwich will require £385m to contribute towards projects including the Long Stratton bypass, Norwich's northern bypass (NDR), sports pitches and recycling services.
But the three councils are said to have posed a 'significant threat' to the potential of housing development in the area by setting the charge, known as the community infrastructure levy (CIL), too high.
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The Planning Inspectorate has now recommended the levy on new houses built in or near the city (zone A) is reduced by 35pc, while the CIL contributions for those in rural areas (zone B) drops by 50pc.
If the councils agree to these recommendations and lower the charges then they will have to use other funding sources and charges on developers to raise money.
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Officials say they have not yet produced projections on how the planning inspectorate's recommendations will affect the amount of money that could be available for infrastructure projects. Each council will discuss the issue.
John Fuller, South Norfolk Council leader, said they will have to 'do some arithmetic' and weigh up whether to accept the recommendations compared to the charges they currently have for developers.
Mr Fuller said: 'It's a marginal decision and potentially an extra burden for the taxpayers of tens of millions of pounds, which is not good really.
'We are successfully negotiating section 106 agreements, which give an adequate return and yet still provide infrastructure that supports growth, houses, roads, hospitals, sports facilities etc.'
Stephen Heard, chairman of Stop Norwich Urbanisation (Snub), said: 'The lower CIL makes it more viable for developers to make some profit to sell these houses but it means all they will be building is another Dussindale.
'We were always told that wouldn't be the case and that there would be green centres and infrastructure.'
Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk work collectively with Norfolk County Council as the Greater Norwich Partnership (GNDP).
And Brenda Arthur, city council leader and GNDP chairman, said the lower CIL recommendations were disappointing, but it is up to individual councils to decide what to do.
She said: 'Although the lower level of residential CIL may help kick-start housing growth in the greater Norwich area it does raise issues about how the supporting infrastructure will be delivered.'
Property consultants and developers have welcomed the reduced rates.
Keith Holland, of the Planning Inspectorate who examined the GNDP's CIL proposals, reported: 'The evidence shows that the rates proposed by the residential development are too high and would pose a significant threat to the viability of housing development in the area.'