�8k average levy on new Hunts homes planned

ANYONE building a new home in Huntingdonshire is likely to have to contribute an average of �8,000 towards the extra cost of public services.

At present, developer contributions are levied only on larger developments, such as 10 homes or more, under what are know as Section 106 agreements with planners. These are used to ensure that developers contribute to the cost of extra school places, roads, surgeries, social services and so on imposed on councils by the new residents.

But a developer putting up nine luxury homes currently pays nothing towards the �1.9billion of additional infrastructure that Huntingdonshire District Council estimates the district will need by 2026.

Under new arrangements due to come into effect in April next year, S106 agreements will become much more restricted in scope and the infrastructure burden will be spread more equitably under the new ‘community infrastructure levy’ (CIL) for which Hunts has been one of the pilots.

Preliminary plans are that new homes will attract CIL at the rate of �98 per square metre, which will amount to around �8,000 for the average home, according to HDC’s planning chief Steve Ingram.

Smaller homes will attract a lower charge, larger ones will generate higher levies.

“It’s based on what specialist valuers have told us the Huntingdonshire property market could reasonably pay,” Mr Ingram told The Hunts Post.

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“We need to do this because CIL will be the only game in town when S106 is restricted. And it’s far more equitable.”

Huge projects of more than 200 homes, such as the further eastwards expansion of St Neots at Wintringham Park, will still generate the need for S106 payments as well, but only for site-specific investments, such as the new primary schools resident children will attend. Wider infrastructure investment, such as dualling the A428 (if not funded by Whitehall) will be for CIL to help pay for.

Other future developments that will retain some S106 provision include St Ives westward expansion and RAF Brampton.

The levy is not a tax to hit a target – in Huntingdonshire’s case the estimated �1.9bn – but a land charge designed to make a realistic contribution, Mr Ingram stressed.

“It will get nowhere near that. There will be a massive gap that we shall be bidding for government cash to fill,” he said.

Some developments will not attract charges, such as extensions, affordable homes, new offices, warehouses and factories or buildings for community use. But other developments that add to public costs will attract CIL, such as hotels at �50 per sq m and shops at �75 per sq m.

A preliminary draft consultation on these charges is expected to start later this month, with further consultation in November, followed by examination in public early next year with a view to implementation in April.

Landowners and developers will become liable for the levy as soon as building work starts, though in some circumstances payments can be phased.

CIL will also apply to relevant changes of use, such as offices to residential or retail.

The cash raised will fund such needs as transport infrastructure, utilities, flood defences, schools and other educational facilities, parks and strategic open spaces, community facilities, health centres and hospitals, waste facilities or emergency services.

Late payments will attract a surcharge, and those who do not pay up could find themselves in court.