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ICE: Localism Bill must not threaten vital projects

Revisions to the Localism Bill could jeopardise important regional infrastructure such as transport and waste systems, the ICE has warned.

Levy to potentially be diverted

In the wake of the Bill’s second reading in the Lords last week, the ICE has published an updated briefing on the plans.

It raises concerns about changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which was originally intended to secure developer contributions towards the provision and improvement of local infrastructure.

The ICE is concerned by revisions that mean in future the Levy could be used for other purposes, including revenue funding for maintenance and upkeep.

It has also raised concerns about changes allowing for the money to be passed to third parties such as community groups. The government is also considering the possibility of allowing CIL to be spent on affordable housing.

Communities and local government minister Greg Clark has previously said that this would allow a “meaningful proportion” of the CIL to go directly to the neighbourhood in which it was raised.

Essential infrastructure “overrided”

But the ICE said this week that this could lead to highly localised, specific priorities overriding the need for essential infrastructure that would benefit a much greater number of people.

It warned that with local authorities facing reduced budgets, the CIL will become an increasingly important mechanism for funding new infrastructure and said that opening it up for other purposes would undermine its primary function.

The ICE has also raised concerns about the introduction of local referendums, which could pose questions for infrastructure development if organised community groups are able to oppose certain types of developments even before planning proposals have been made.

“This important funding stream must be protected solely for the provision of essential infrastructure”

Chairman of the ICE localism panel Geoff French

Chairman of the ICE’s localism panel Geoff French said, “Due to a history of under-investment many of our local networks are in urgent need of upgrading or replacement.

“It has been estimated that the CIL could raise around £1bn per year in future, and we strongly believe this important funding stream must be protected solely for the provision of essential infrastructure that underpins economic growth, both locally and nationally.”

The ICE has previously called for strengthening and clarity of the Duty to Cooperate clause to ensure that larger than local infrastructure was planned and delivered properly. An amended clause was produced at report stage that addressed these issues.

ICE push for recognition

The ICE’s latest briefing on the Localism Bill has been sent to Lords and MPs as well as ministers to ensure the issue of the CIL is understood.

French added: “The ICE is very pleased that government recognised our initial concerns about the Duty to Cooperate and we hope that it will now also take the important issue of the CIL into consideration as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”

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