East Cambridgeshire levy plans backed by examiner

An examiner has backed East Cambridgeshire District Council's plans for a new development tax in its area, but recommended that the authority delete a differential levy rate based on the size of retail units from its proposals.

Superstore: council told by examiner to delete differential rate based on size of retail units
Superstore: council told by examiner to delete differential rate based on size of retail units
In a report issued this week, examiner Robert Yuille concluded that East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) draft charging schedule "provides an appropriate basis for the collection of the levy in the area".

The examiner’s report said: "The council has sufficient evidence to support the schedule and can show that the levy will not put the overall development of the area at risk."

But the examiner’s report added that one modification to the council’s proposals is needed in order for the draft charging schedule to meet statutory requirements. He recommended that the council delete a "differential rate of CIL based on the size of retail units".

East Cambridgeshire District Council’s draft charging schedule proposed a rate of £120 per square metre for retail units above 350 square metres and a rate of £60 per square metre for retail units below this threshold.

Yuille’s report said that the proposed charging rate for larger retail units "is informed by and consistent with the evidence in the charging schedule". But the report added: "The position regarding the proposal to charge a rate of £60 per square metre for retail units of up to 350 square metres is less clear cut."

The report said that a small retail unit "is a different use to a large retail unit" and there is "nothing" in the CIL regulations "which prevents the charging of differential rates for such distinct uses as long as this is supported by viability evidence".

According to the examiner’s report, figures in the council’s viability assessment do not "clearly show a significant difference between the ability of small and large retail units to support CIL".

The report adds: "It was confirmed at the hearing that while this evidence points to some differences between small and large retail units, it does not support the proposed 350 square metre threshold."

The report concluded: "In order to ensure that the charging rate is informed by and consistent with the evidence it is recommended that the schedule is modified to delete reference to the 350 square metre threshold and the lower charging rate associated with this."

In August, an examiner told the Borough of Poole to delete a proposed charge for superstores from its CIL proposals.

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s had objected to the Borough of Poole’s proposed approach, prompting the examiner to adjourn the examination hearing to "allow the council to review its approach in relation to retail development/superstores".

Subsequently, the council revealed that it had accepted Sainsbury’s position.

Report on the examination of the East Cambridgeshire District Council Community Infrastructure Levy draft charging schedule is available here.

jamie.carpenter@haymarket.com



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