MISSING MILLIONS SCANDAL: THE FULL STORY
This is what you read in Focus, but there’s more…
Adur District Council has missed out on the chance to collect millions of pounds from property developers, local Liberal Democrat campaigners have revealed.
The money – as much as £3m – could have been spent on local services such as schools, health centres, libraries and road improvements.
The funds would have come from the Community Infrastructure Levy, a government scheme which lets councils charge developers building homes and commercial properties.
Adur has been the slowest of West Sussex’s district and borough councils to tap into the millions the scheme is producing. The county’s other six councils have already implemented the levy or published their charging rates.
But at the beginning of 2020, Adur still hadn’t published its own charges.
Meanwhile, local residents are missing out on the facilities the money could provide, says Ian Jones, Shoreham and Southwick Liberal Democrats’ spokesman.
Ian says: “At a time when local council’s budgets have been cut to the bone, they should chase every penny. It’s a scandal that slow-coach Adur is at the back of the queue and has missed out on millions.
“There’s some flexibility in implementing the CIL and it’s perfectly possible to adopt different policies and charging rates. But that doesn’t excuse Adur’s delay in getting the scheme working in this area.”
Now read what we didn’t have room to tell you in Focus…
Adur District Council took a grindingly slow six years – from 2012 to 2017 – to agree its Adur Local Plan, which delayed its chance to collect CIL.
Councils can already raise money from property developers via the “Section 106” provision in the Town and Country Planning acts. But Liberal Democrat research, based on Freedom of Information requests to five West Sussex councils, reveals that more money can be raised under CIL than by Section 106.
To test the theory, the Liberal Democrats modelled a small, a medium, and a large development project where Adur District Council received Section 106 money.
In the case of the Lidl supermarket in Brighton Road, Shoreham, the Council raised £150,000. But the model showed the council could have received as much as £180,000 if it had a CIL scheme running with charging rates similar to those used by other West Sussex councils.
At Caxton House in Ham Road, Shoreham, where an old office and commercial property is being turned into 14 flats, the council raised £34,731, but could have received £89,370 under CIL.
For the Free Wharf development of a complex of 10 buildings containing 540 homes and commercial premises in Brighton Road, Shoreham, councils are due to receive £2,121,899 under Section 106, but could have netted £3,619,850 under CIL.
(All three examples are theoretical models and there is no suggestion the organisations involved have avoided their actual liabilities.)
In all, the Liberal Democrats discovered Adur District Council could have received £1,582,590 more if it had been ready to levy CIL on the projects. A FoI request revealed Adur used Section 106 on six other development projects between 2015 and 2019.
“We believe that if the Council had been ready to use CIL on all these as well it could have banked at least an extra £3m,” Mr Jones said.
“There is some flexibility in implementing the CIL and it’s perfectly possible to adopt different policies and charging rates. But even allowing for that, it’s clear Adur District Council has missed out on millions that could have benefitted local people.”
HOW WE MADE THE CALCULATIONS
Lidl supermarket. Two West Sussex councils – Horsham District and Crawley Borough – mention supermarkets in their charging schedules. Horsham charges supermarkets £100 per square metre (sqm); Crawley £100 per sqm for supermarkets up to 3,000 sqm. We used the same figure.
Caxton House. The development provides approximately 945 square metres of accommodation, according to published figures. We took an average of 13 CIL charging schedules used by West Sussex councils for residential property - £135 per sqm. We made allowance for no charges on notional “affordable” properties in the development – a target of 30% in the Adur Local Plan. After that, we applied the £135 sqm charge to 770 sqm to produce a revenue of £89,370.
Free Wharf. This is a development of 540 homes of which 162 fall into the “affordable” category – and, thus, are free from a CIL charge. That left two studio, 125 one-bed, 225 two-bed and 26 three-bed properties liable to a CIL charge. We used sqm figures similar to those in other Shoreham flats. We applied the West Sussex average of £135 per sqm to 25,560 sqm in the 378 homes outside the “affordable” category to produce revenue of £3,450,600. The development also includes 2,707 sqm of retail and business space. We assumed half of this would be subject to a CIL charge of £125 per sqm to generate £169,250 revenue, making a total for Free Wharf of £3,619,850.