A NEW levy on development which helps to fund vital infrastructure should be waived entirely for housebuilding schemes in Bradford and Keighley, a planning inspector has ruled.

The move would help to regenerate brownfield sites in both places, the Government inspector said, even though Council estimates show it could cost the district more than £10 million in unrealised cash for roads, schools and services.

The Council’s most senior officer for planning, Julian Jackson, said the move could have a “really positive” effect on encouraging inner-city development, but it was clear other ways to fund the key infrastructure the district needed would have to be found.


The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) has been introduced nationwide by the Government, billed as a way of making housebuilder contributions fairer, faster and more transparent.

Bradford Council is poised to start charging developers the levy from July 1, with the cash used for roads, schools, flood protection and more.

The size of the levy depends on how profitable it is to build in these areas, and Bradford Council had been planning to charge a nominal £5 per square metre for homes built in Bradford or Keighley, where property prices are low, rising to £100 per square metre in affluent Wharfedale.

But planning inspector Louise Nurser, who examined the proposals, has told the Council to scrap the £5 rate entirely, fearing it would render housebuilding in Bradford and Keighley unviable for developers.

And she said there was “a significant risk that in applying this charge, the development strategy of the Council to regenerate and build on brownfield land would be compromised”.

Ms Nurser said she noted that according to the Council’s figures, a levy of zero in Bradford and Keighley would reduce forecast income to the Council by £10.6m over 15 years.

But she disputed this, arguing that the levy could have meant many inner-city sites were not developed at all, and would therefore bring in nothing.

She said she felt the £10.6m estimate was “overly optimistic” and setting the CIL rate at zero in Bradford and Keighley would ultimately have little impact on the amount of infrastructure cash raised.

Planning bosses have said one up-side to her decision is that this could tempt developers to build homes in areas of the district which have so far been overlooked.

Bhupinder Dev, the Council’s team leader for local development documents, said the move “could potentially incentivise developers and investors to build in Bradford”.

Mr Jackson, assistant director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “It could be really positive, in terms of stimulating development in these more challenging areas.”

The leader of the opposition Conservatives, Councillor Simon Cooke, said the planning inspector’s decision was “not surprising”.

He said he was surprised when Bradford Council had suggested charging a levy at all in Bradford.

He said: “As it is, certain sites in the city aren’t viable, so we are not going to achieve anything by putting more cost on it.

“If people can’t afford to develop it now, they can’t afford to develop it with more money going out.”

Under the tweaked rates, CIL is forecast to raise up to £25.4m for infrastructure over the next 15 years.

It is a part-replacement of the old system of Section 106 agreements, although these will remain to secure on-site contributions like affordable housing.

But with the cost of much-needed infrastructure estimated at a huge £762m over the same 15 years, Council bosses have warned that CIL will be no magic solution to the district’s needs.

Mr Dev said: “CIL was never the silver bullet that would plug the infrastructure funding gap. The receipts we generate from CIL in the North of England don’t really plug the infrastructure funding gap that we have in cities such as Bradford.”

Mr Jackson said they would need to get money from elsewhere, such as the £1bn West Yorkshire Plus Transport Fund or the New Homes Bonus - Government cash given to councils for every home built.

Brownfield sites can often be very expensive to clear and decontaminate, which can put developers off building on them.

But some of the money raised through CIL could be used to prepare brownfield sites for regeneration, council chiefs said.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, who leads on planning matters at the Labour-led Council, said this would have knock-on benefits for the whole district.

He said: “We know all the district needs infrastructure.

“If we spend a bit that has come in from development in one area, but helps bring forward a brownfield site in another, there’s a benefit across the district.”

Most of the money raised through CIL will go into one central pot, but areas with a parish or town council can keep 15 per cent of the cash, and areas which have drawn up neighbourhood plans can keep a quarter.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said she had real concerns that the new levy would see most of the cash raised going into the central pot.

She said: “Under the old system, communities could get some benefit.

“Now, communities get no benefit and the infrastructure levy will be channelled towards central projects, which is going to set community against community. It’s bound to do.”

Cllr Sunderland said the neighbourhood forum in her ward, Idle and Thackley, was now working hard on drawing up a neighbourhood plan, so they could keep a quarter of the cash to spend locally.

Cllr Cooke also said it was important that infrastructure cash was used to support the developments that generated it.