Green spaces in line to benefit from proposed developer tariff

A tariff for providing community infrastructure including parks and green spaces is to be levied on developers as part of an overhaul of the current local planning system.

The proposals have been cautiously applauded by parks experts as a way of providing more certainty of cash for green spaces.

The Parks Agency director Stewart Harding said: "It is a good idea as it will build up a big pot of money. But the problem is where parks and green spaces come in the pecking order; how can we guarantee they get a slice of the action?"

HTA director of business development Tim Briercliffe agreed: "The effectiveness of this scheme will depend on the local authority's infrastructure plan and how much green is considered in it, but it is a positive thing."

Details of the charge, known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), were unveiled by the Government last week. Charges will be expressed as a cost per unit of development, for example £1,000 per dwelling or £1 per square foot, but details are yet to be finalised.

Each local authority will set its own charge depending on the value of the land and, although the CIL scheme is to be discretionary, Home Builders Federation head of planning Andrew Whitaker said it was likely to be widespread.

Whitaker added that developers had been working closely with Communities & Local Government on the charge and it was welcomed by the industry.

"At the moment we have the section 106 system where local authorities negotiate for an element of local infrastructure, which creates huge uncertainty, and without knowing what you are going to be asked for it is very difficult to judge the value of the land and development," Whitaker said.

Parks consultant Sid Sullivan said he agreed with the charge but suggested combining it with the Government's drive to give local people more power over community assets through its White Paper Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power. He explained: "A certain amount of the money could be ring-fenced and given to the community to spend how it likes.

"Developers are making a lot of money and the balance is still not right between green infrastructure and the built environment."

A public consultation on CIL will take place this year and local authorities can introduce the charge from next year.

- See www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/communityinfrastructurelevy


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