Camden CIL row: Tory leader urges town hall to spend more development cash locally

Cllr Oliver Cooper

Cllr Oliver Cooper - Credit: Oliver Cooper

Leading Camden councillors clashed over where cash raised from developments in Hampstead is spent, with Hampstead Town councillor and Tory group leader Cllr Oliver Cooper calling for a “built-in presumption” in favour of a proportion of funds raised through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) being spent locally.

But leader Cllr Georgia Gould said “vast inequalities” in Camden meant the council had to “look at the borough as a whole”.

CIL is charged on all developments over a certain size in the borough.

It’s raised in a similar way to section 106 funds, another levy on building projects, to mitigate negative development impacts.

According to the Planning Act 2008, CIL should only be used to cover “costs incurred in supporting the development of an area”.

Money from CIL goes into two pots, one for strategic targets and projects in the borough, and another for local improvements.

Following the meeting, Cllr Cooper told us his point of contention surrounds how much from the first pot is spent in the north of the borough.

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“I understand a lot of strategic CIL will be expenditure on cross-borough interests,” he told the meeting. “Even if you were to add on some of this, that would be at the very maximum be 4 or 5 per cent of CIL spending being spent in Hampstead Town, Belsize and Frognal and Fitzjohns.”

Cllr Gould said: “We have to look at the borough as a whole and where there is a need of investment. [...]

“A significant proportion [of] money is there for local councillors to decide how to spend with local people.”

Camden figures show £44.3million was raised from CIL in projects built since 2012. Of that, just over £14m was raised in projects in Belsize, Hampstead Town and Frognal and Fitzjohns wards.

But when it came to spending cash, the three wards have only got a fraction of that amount. They got 1pc of cash in 2017/2018.

In September, council planning chief Cllr Danny Beales, who looks after CIL funding, told this newspaper: “CIL is charged at different rates across Camden depending on the uplift in value for development. By far our highest CIL rates for larger developments are charged for housing in NW3, and it is this, rather than the volume of development and numbers of new homes, which explains why so much CIL has been collected in the north of the borough.

“In line with our approach, a quarter of the Camden CIL collected in NW3 is automatically retained to be spent locally.”