Amendments to the CIL Social Housing Relief

Under the draft Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the social housing relief has been extended to include affordable rent, communal areas and discount market housing (the latter being on a discretionary basis). Respondents to the Government’s consultation hope that these amendments will increase viability on mixed schemes.

The draft Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) Regulations 2014 are due to come into force in early 2014. You may have seen our plan-it-law blog in December, which highlighted some of the amendments.

One significant amendment is the extension of the social housing relief. This relief currently applies to social rent housing, intermediate rent and shared ownership but will be amended to include the affordable rent tenure (where properties are let for a maximum of 80 per cent of market rent) as well as communal areas used by affordable dwellings (such as stairs, corridors and car parks). Where communal areas are also used by “non-social housing” elements of a development, the relief will apply on a proportional basis. The proposed amendments also introduce a discretionary relief for discount market housing (housing sold for no more than 80 per cent of market value). The discretionary relief can only be claimed if the local charging authority has issued a document in accordance with the regulations, expressly making the relief available.

These additional reliefs and a number of the other new amendments aim to increase viability of schemes and encourage development. In particular, charging authorities will now be required to strike (rather than “aim to strike”) an appropriate balance between funding infrastructure and the viability of development. Achieving this balance may require greater involvement of developers in CIL examinations: Planning magazine has recently reported on worryingly low numbers of developers engaging in the process of setting CIL rates, citing developers’ concerns as to the difficulty of commissioning original viability research in order to challenge draft charging schedules.

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