New charges are going to be imposed on building developments to help pay for infrastructure improvements. The issue is to find a sensible level which generates the funds without putting a brake on fresh schemes. Ian Bell, Executive Director of Bath Chamber of Commerce, believes it should be a cause for concern for business and residents alike.
The Community Infrastructure Levy will very largely replace Section 106 agreements, through which developers paid what amounted to a surcharge to cover the cost of improvements in the vicinity of their projects. Some of the new levy will be used in the same way, but local authorities will have the chance to pool funding from different schemes in order to pay for larger infrastructure projects.
All this is well and good. But the big question is how high should the levy be set ? Too low and there won’t be enough funding raised for infrastructure improvements – too high and the golden goose of development will go elsewhere taking its golden eggs with it.
The Council are inviting people to comment on their first draft proposals, which include the suggestion that some housing developments should face a charge of £200 per square metre. That would put another £16,000 on the cost of building a relatively modest 80 square metre house and could be the difference between a development going ahead or being stopped in its tracks. By way of comparison, the highest residential rate proposed for Bristol is £70 per square metre.
Similarly, the Cabinet decided to propose a £30 per square metre charge on office space. Bristol have opted for a zero rate.
This is not an issue just for developers, it should be a worry for all businesses because if you are in a company looking to grow and in need of new space, too high a level of CIL could prevent the developments from happening that you would otherwise be looking to move into.
Likewise residents should be worried because it could have a bearing on the number of new homes to be built, which are much in demand by children who would prefer to go on living and working in the place that they call home.
The Chamber of Commerce has good links with the Federation of Bath Residents Associations and share many ambitions. For example, we both want to see a strategic transport plan and would welcome the return to residential use of Georgian buildings in the city centre which currently offer unsuitable and unpopular office accommodation.
This is a subject for the whole of our community and if as many people as possible get involved in the process we can reach a consensus which will benefit us all … including the golden goose.
If you would like to know more about Bath Chamber of Commerce please contact me at email@example.com – 01225.460655 .
Press Release: Bath Chronicle - May 2012