Handforth Parish Council says they'll lose £2m if new planning charges go ahead


If Cheshire East Council's proposals for a new planning levy go ahead Handforth Parish Council says they are set to lose £2m.

Cheshire East Council is planning to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which would be payable once new developments start construction and is calculated per square metre of eligible floor space.

The funds raised would be used to help fund new community facilities and infrastructure - such as roads, schools and medical facilities.

However Cheshire East is proposing a zero rate for the North Cheshire Growth Village which would mean Handforth would see no benefit in relation to this development at all from this new planning charge.

Following initial consultation in the spring, the Council is currently consulting on their draft charging schedule which sets out the various charging rates that would apply for new development. 

The draft charging schedule divides Cheshire East into five charging zones for residential development – ranging from a zero rate in many built-up areas through to £168 per square metre - which the Council says are based on the costs and viability of new development, rather than the cost of new infrastructure.

The highest rate of £168 per square metre is being proposed for the following Local Plan sites: land between Sagars Road and Clay Lane in Handforth, Royal London including land west of Alderley Road, Land at Little Stanneylands, Heathfield Farm and Alderley Park. However, the proposed CIL rate for the North Cheshire Growth Village is zero.

Whilst Handforth Parish Council do not oppose the introduction of CIL they find the zero rating for the North Cheshire Growth Village "wholly unacceptable" and will be appointing their own viability consultant to challenge Cheshire East's consultants findings.

Councillor Samson said "Whilst Handforth Parish Council favour the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) by Cheshire East Council, which will give greater involvement at town/parish council level regarding the use of funds from developments and their direct application to infrastructure projects which the council feel are the most worthy, the council is deeply unhappy about the contents of the proposed CIL charging schedule.

"In the proposed CIL charging schedule, a levy rating of zero has been applied to the North Cheshire Growth Village (NCGV), the single largest development to take place in Handforth. This rating represents, at the very least, a loss of circa £2 million which, as a result of the implementation of CIL, would have come directly to the Parish Council to invest in areas of community infrastructure which the Parish Council feels would have most benefitted."

At the meeting of Handforth Parish Council held on Tuesday, 10th October, members unanimously agreed to challenge this zero levy rating by sending their own representation to CEC and encouraging the residents of Handforth to also send in representations.

They also intend to hold discussions with Esther McVey MP for Tatton and appoint a viability consultant to challenge the report produced for Cheshire East Council, which at present considers the site "non viable" in terms of attaching a CIL levy owing to over inflated costs, and low selling prices.

Councillor Samson added "Once received we will pass our own viability report to CEC and the independent inspector for the inspector to judge whether, in terms of CIL the site is or is not viable."

The CIL consultation, which sets out the various charging rates that would apply for new development, runs until November 6th. Full details can be found via the council's website at: www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/localplan.

Cheshire East Council, Community Infrastructure Levy, Handforth Parish Council, North Cheshire Growth Village


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Brian Tolver
Thursday 12th October 2017 at 3:14 pm
If the "Garden Village" is the wonderful scheme that Cheshire East have been telling us it is, providing "much-needed" extra housing for our growing population, then why are the houses they will build here being given such a low valuation?

It couldn't be that Cheshire East Council, as the land-owners and therefore responsible for paying out any CIL money, have had a hand in setting the rate to suit themselves, could it? Or am I being too cynical?
Julian Barlow
Thursday 12th October 2017 at 3:53 pm
CEC couldn't negotiate a deal between a bag of carrots and a donkey. They give away green belt land and haemorrhage our hard earned cash like a drunken lottery winner. It's astounding to see an organisation with control over so many desirable assets, give it all away so freely.
Raymond Acton
Thursday 12th October 2017 at 4:22 pm
Will the schools be planned and built according to how much this move will raise or in line with the needs of the many incoming pupils?
Janet Taylor
Friday 13th October 2017 at 1:44 pm
If this situation was a choice between low-cost, affordable housing and a chunk of money, I think there would be very little objection to the former from residents, however, given the recent performances from CEC and the planned developments already in the pipeline along with permitted amendments to planning applications (and the access to Handforth Station by Jones Homes springs immediately to mind) I suspect this will be done and dusted by Cheshire East long before we have a couple of thousand unaffordable houses, no infrastructure and 10,000 more cars clogging the highways.