Bournemouth warned over viability impact of retail and student CIL rates

An examiner has recommended changes to Bournemouth Borough Council's proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) rates for small convenience stores and student developments, finding that the authority's proposed charges 'do not leave a sufficient viability margin'.

Bournemouth (picture by Robert Pittman, Flickr)
Bournemouth (picture by Robert Pittman, Flickr)

In his examination report, published last week, examiner John Wilde concluded that, as drafted, Bournemouth Council’s CIL charging schedule "does not provide an appropriate basis for the collection of the levy in the area".

The examination report found that a proposed £250 per square metre charge for small convenience stories would "put at risk this form of development".

It said that the proposed charge would mean that, for a small convenience store in the town centre, "there would be virtually nothing left as a buffer or for section 106 costs".

The situation for a small convenience store out of the town centre "would be worse", the report added, with a "headroom of only £178 per square metre and a CIL charge of £250 per square metre. The latter situation would not therefore be viable".

The examiner recommended that a new levy rate of £134 per square metre for small scale convenience stores should be introduced both inside and outside of the town centre area action plan area.

The examination report also recommended that the proposed charge for student accommodation should be reduced from £50 per square metre to £40 per square metre.

"I consider that a CIL rate for student accommodation of £50 per square metre as suggested by the council could easily lead to a situation where only a small change in a number of variables would render a development unviable," the examiner said.

Wilde’s report also said that the council's proposed residential rates should change in light of a High Court ruling that forced the government to delete guidance preventing councils from seeking affordable housing contributions on small developments.

At the end of July, the ruling prompted the government to delete Planning Practice Guidance stopping councils in most areas from seeking affordable housing contributions from schemes of fewer than ten homes.

Bournemouth Borough Council’s CIL charging schedule was among those identified by Planning earlier this year as being caught in the fallout from the judgement.

Wilde’s examination report said that differential residential rates outside of the town centre action plan area should be replaced with a single rate of £70 per square metre.

Report on the examination of the draft Bournemouth Borough Council Community Infrastructure Levy charging schedule is available here.

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