Last month, examiner Terrence Kemmann-Lane endorsed Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's community infrastructure levy (CIL) proposals. Amanda Rogers is CIL and section 106 officer at the council.
Q. When you first got involved in preparation of the CIL?
A. The council first considered implementing CIL in February 2013 and as section 106 officer I was given the role of managing the project. With the exception of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan and the CIL Viability Report, I drafted all the documents relating to the implementation of CIL, which has been both challenging and rewarding.
Q. What was the process?
A. In 2013 I put together a business case for senior managers and councillors, which was accepted. Next, I commissioned a consultant to carry out a CIL viability assessment. Subsequently, a Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule was produced and agreed by members in July 2014, at which point we went out to consultation.
A CIL Governance Framework and draft Regulation 123 Infrastructure List was later agreed by members in September 2014 in preparation for the Draft Charging Schedule consultation in November 2014. Submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Examination finally took place in March 2015. I was very pleased when I learned that the charging schedule was to be dealt with by written representations - I took that to mean that we had done a pretty good job! It was approved on 1 June and is due to be adopted by the council this month.
Q. What were the challenges and how did you overcome them?
A. The numerous changes to the CIL Regulations since 2010 have been challenging and have certainly given me some sleepless nights. However, being part of the Planning Officers Society CIL group assisted immensely with sharing information and keeping members up to date with changes to the legislation. Also, the process of gaining member approval starting with the corporate management team and ending at full council proved particularly time consuming. My advice in this respect is to seek delegated authority from members at the outset to allow officers to proceed to Preliminary Draft Charging Schedule consultation, Draft Charging Schedule consultation then submission without going back to full council providing there are no material amendments to the Draft Charging Schedule.
Q. What lessons did you learn from the process?
A. Preparing a detailed overview report outlining the key issues for examination was invaluable. And a detailed project plan including every stage of the process is essential to ensure delivery of CIL in a timely manner. It is also critical to prepare for implementation as early as possible - do not wait for adoption of a charging schedule to deal with the implementation issues.
And finally, ensure you have senior management and member involvement and ‘buy-in’ from the start! I have met a lot of interesting and knowledgeable planning professionals along the way, and the outcome has given me a huge sense of achievement.