Tower Hamlets CIL charging schedule approved by examiner

Out-Law News | 09 Dec 2014 | 5:18 pm | 1 min. read

An examiner has recommended that Tower Hamlets Council's community infrastructure levy (CIL) draft charging schedule (DCS) is adopted, subject to four minor modifications.

Following examination hearings held in May and October, examiner Malcolm Rivett issued his report (25-page / 270 KB PDF) on the DCS last month. He said that the DCS provided an appropriate basis for the collection of CIL in the area, subject to the Council making several modifications including the reduction of rates for office developments in the 'North Docklands' area to nil.

The Council had proposed CIL rates of £50 per square metre for office developments in the North Docklands area, £90 per sq m in the 'City Fringe' area and a nil rate in the rest of the borough. However, Rivett recommended that the charge for the North Docklands be reduced to nil in order to protect payments towards Crossrail provided for under the London Plan and guidance issued by the mayor of London.

The inspector noted that the mayor of London's supplementary planning guidance for the use of planning obligations in the funding of Crossrail set out a high indicative rate for office developments in the Isle of Dogs, in which North Docklands was located. Rivett said the Council's viability study identified that charging any level of CIL in the North Docklands would render development unviable where a full payment was also made towards Crossrail.

While there was disagreement over how much Crossrail funding would be lost by charging CIL in the area, the inspector recommended that a nil rate should nevertheless be applied.

Rivett also recommended that nil rates be applied to all developments within the four large strategic sites of Bishopsgate Goodsyard, Wood Wharf, Westferry Printworks and the London Dock. The inspector said evidence provided by the Council demonstrated that implementing the proposed CIL charges at the sites would require affordable housing provision to be reduced to well below the 35% to 50% required in the borough's local plan core strategy.

In the context of a growing population and an emphasis on affordable housing provision in local planning policy, Rivett said that there was a "reasonable likelihood" that higher affordable housing provision than could be viably delivered alongside CIL charges would be required by the Council in the future. The inspector, therefore, advised the Council to reduce all charges to nil at the sites.

The inspector also recommended that the proposed rate of £425 per sq m for student housing be reduced to nil where student housing was being provided for let at below market rents, due to evidence that any charge would render such developments unviable. It was also necessary to more fully define "convenience supermarkets/superstores and retail warehousing" in order to provide clarity and "fair and transparent implementation", Rivett said.

The Council said it intends to implement CIL from April 2015.