John Dodds, Midlands Regional Director at St. Modwen, said:
“As the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, St. Modwen delivers complex regeneration projects mainly on brownfield sites.
“The National Planning Policy Framework recognises that such sites require specific strategies to overcome these challenges but the Community Infrastructure Levy is distinctly different in that it treats sites in a more uniform manner.
“None of the draft CIL proposals we have seen differentiate between brownfield and greenfield land. With brownfield land each site has specific remediation costs, but under CIL these specific costs are ignored.
“In contrast, at our Longbridge regeneration scheme, we have the Longbridge Infrastructure Tariff – a forerunner to CIL with similar principles. By working closely with Birmingham, Bromsgrove and Worcester local authorities, we have developed a viability test that takes into account site specific and local issues. This system works extremely well and the amount of development at Longbridge pays testament to this.
“We fear that, as CIL is currently proposed, it could render brownfield projects economically unviable. This will lead to an increase in the development of greenfield sites to the detriment of regeneration schemes like Longbridge in Birmingham and in other towns and cities.
“CIL rates must have flexibility to take into account site specific construction costs, planning obligations and abnormal development costs. Otherwise CIL has the very real potential of becoming an inflexible tax that discriminates against brownfield development.
“CIL was intended to simplify, through a levy, the section 106 contributions and therefore enable developers to bring forward schemes. There is a real danger that if this new levy is applied rigidly, the only real certainty is that brownfield sites will be unviable and development will be stifled. In turn this will be a negative force on the government’s growth agenda.”