Anger as City Hall looks to excuse developers from paying thousands of pounds
- Credit: Broadland District Council
Proposals to give developers in Norwich a way round paying a levy of thousands of pounds have created conflict between three of the county's councils.
A previously deferred decision over whether to bring in an option for developers of major schemes to apply for an exception to paying the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) has been agreed by Norwich City Council's cabinet.
The CIL is a sum developers building new homes or floorspace have to pay, which is then pooled together and can be accessed by local councils for infrastructure, such as schools, roads and leisure facilities.
However, with this pot of money available across the Greater Norwich Development Partnership - which also includes county, Broadland and South Norfolk councils - the leaders of Broadland and South Norfolk have hit out at the proposals.
In a joint statement, Broadland leader Shaun Vincent and South Norfolk leader John Fuller, said: 'The purpose of CIL funding is for the four authorities to work together to invest in the fabric of our communities, on projects that make a real difference to the quality of our residents' lives.
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'This collaborative approach is the ethos of the partnership with developer contributions invested blind to local authority boundaries and it is disappointing that a partner is seeking to change the way this important source of investment is collected.'
In a report to city cabinet, officers have recommended the city council bring in an exceptional circumstances relief policy, which would allow developers to apply for exemption.
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City council leader Alan Waters had previously indicated such a scheme would help the council attract developers to invest in the area, on land such as the Colman's/Unilever site.
However, Mr Fuller and Mr Vincent added: 'This potential change comes ahead of a proposed full review of CIL to take place alongside the current development of the Greater Norwich Local Plan.
'This review should seek ways to increase the amount of money that's available to invest in infrastructure to make liveable communities and environmental improvements.
'Having an exception policy for difficult sites without the agreement from partners on a way of increasing contributions from more profitable development is not what is needed if residents are to have confidence that infrastructure will be delivered alongside the building of new homes.'
Norwich City Council response
A spokesperson from Norwich City Council said: 'We remain absolutely committed to working with our partner authorities to invest in infrastructure, however each council is a CIL charging authority and can set its own exemption policies and our partners were made aware of our intention to take this decision to cabinet.
'A CIL relief policy can only be used in genuinely exceptional circumstances if developers meet the very strict criteria and can demonstrate significant benefits to local communities.
'CIL exemption policies are designed to promote the regeneration of brownfield areas which would otherwise remain undeveloped.'
With the proposals agreed by cabinet, it will be up to the full city council to decide whether to go ahead with the proposals.