Council ‘missing out’ on funding

ELDC Headquarters, Manby
ELDC Headquarters, Manby

Communities across East Lindsey are missing out on vital cash to improve local services – because the district council has not signed up to a national scheme.

That is the claim of Horncastle town councillor Matthew Wilkinson.

He says the district council’s failure to adopt the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) means towns and villages often lack funding to improve key services – like roads, health and education.

The levy is a planning charge that was introduced in 2008. It means developers behind any kind of new development have to pay a set figure towards local infra-structure improvements.

Coun Wilkinson was speaking during a town council question and answer session with council leader Craig Leyland.

Coun Wilkinson claimed that because the authority had not adopted the CIL, major developments in places like Horncastle, Louth and Skegness had gone ahead without a contribution from developers.

His claim, however, brought a swift response from Coun Leyland, who stressed a system of payments from developers was in place via section 106 agreements.

Coun Wilkinson said: “Horncastle is inundated with housing applications but, unlike many other authorities, East Lindsey has not signed up to the CIL.

“My understanding is that a payment from a developer – either retail, housing or business – goes into a pot to pay for improvements to things like a bypass.

“Developers are looking at Horncastle because hundreds of homes already have planning permission, but, without the levy in place, we are not going to get a payment.

“Tell me Coun Leyland, how are we are going to facilitate all the additional services that are needed?”

Coun Leyland agreed with Coun Wilkinson’s comments about a CIL and confirmed the council had opted against adopting it.

He explained, however, that the decision was based on the lower value of land in East Lindsey compared to other areas of the country.

He said developers could claim a CIL payment was effectively deterring development – a factor which would go against national planning policy.

He went on to stress that section 106 agreements were used by the council to effectively tie developers into payments.

Coun Leyland said: “You are right about the levy, but we also have section 106 agreements which can and do contribute to local infra-structure.

“There is no simple answer to why we have not adopted CIL.

“One reason is about viability. The lower land values across East Lindsey means that to impose a level would deter development.

“That would be a classed as permissive document. Government guidelines are that any decisions should not hinder potential development.

“I must stress, it [the CIL] is not mandatory.

“I note your comments and perhaps we could look at it at a later date.”

There has been criticism of section 106 agreements in Horncastle amid claims the NHS failed to submit an application for funding from the Langton Hill development.