Barnet aims to increase developer cash for community projects

Barnet Council has responded to the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: LDRS

Barnet Council has responded to the coronavirus outbreak. Picture: LDRS - Credit: Archant

Barnet Council aims to bring in more money from development schemes and spend it on bigger projects. 

A planned shake-up of the community infrastructure levy (CIL) – funding the council receives from developers to pay for roads, schools and other infrastructure – would see it rise from £135 to £300 per square metre for housing schemes. 

The CIL funding given to councillors to spend on projects is set to jump from £450,000 to £1.2 million per year, and a limit on the amount spent per scheme will be removed. 

Councillors agreed the changes – the majority of which gained cross-party support – at a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Monday (May 24). 

Council leader Cllr Dan Thomas (Conservative, Finchley Church End) told the meeting: “A couple of years ago, I said that I wanted all residents to benefit from the proceeds of growth. 

“These proposals will increase the amount of CIL funding that is spent locally. It will give more powers to spend locally, (and) it will bring decisions close to the communities that CIL will be spent in. 

“I think we should move beyond park benches and play equipment with local CIL. It would be good to have some exciting schemes proposed and backed and funded locally.” 

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For retail schemes, the CIL charge would rise from £135 to £202 per square metre under the plans. This amount would also apply to hotels, while £20 per square metre would be raised from leisure and employment spaces. 

A separate funding pot of up to £300,000 per year will be allocated to road safety and parking schemes. 

Labour councillors suggested CIL charges be looked at more often, as the last review took place in 2013. Cllr Alison Moore (Labour, East Finchley) warned the long period of time could be “to the detriment of the borough” and called for the next review to be “timely”. 

Opposition councillors also raised concerns that the removal of the funding cap could lead area committees to spend too much on a particular project early in the year and have little to spend on other schemes further down the line. 

In response, Cllr Thomas said he wanted councillors to work together to manage the committees’ budgets. 

The changes to the CIL charging schedule need to be approved by the government’s planning inspectorate. If approved, they are expected to be agreed by full council and take effect later this year or early next year.