Monday, 16 July 2018

Developer's levy will go to town not parish

THOUSANDS of pounds in developer contributions will come to Henley from a planned major housing site even though it sits in a neighbouring parish

THOUSANDS of pounds in developer contributions will come to Henley from a planned major housing site even though it sits in a neighbouring parish.

An application for 170 homes has been submitted by Crest Nicholson for the Highlands Farm site, which currently lies in the Harpsden parish.

South Oxfordshire District Council will collect the Community Infrastructure Levy, a charge which helps fund infrastructure improvements, from developers and will pass 25 percent of the funds to councils from development that comes forward in its parish or town. 

The money is therefore likely to be paid to Harpsden Parish Council but town councillor Will Hamilton, who worked on the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and is chairman of the council’s finance committee, said Henley would benefit.

He explained: “We funded the neighbourhood plan in its entirety — we spent £110,000. Nobody knows whether the money gets paid on the planning application or on development. We want to ensure we’re getting paid the right amount of money.

“Community Infrastructure Levy monies will be paid to wherever it sits, it will be paid to Harpsden and we will work with Harpsden. The reality is the houses at Highlands Farm will face Henley. They will use Henley’s schools, doctors and roads.

“I’m confident that working with Harpsden the way we have worked together on the plan we will come to the right outcome.

“We need to plan the whole Henley and Harpsden area, rather than piece meal because of where the boundary sits.”

Henley Town Council asked David Buckle, the district council’s chief executive, about moving the site into the Henley parish but was told this will not be able to happen until the next town and parish election cycle in 2019.

At a finance meeting last week Steven Corrigan, the district council’s deputy counting officer, said the authority carried out a community governance review in 2014/15 where some boundaries were moved.

In 2014 town councillors wanted to move Highlands Farm into Henley but Mr Corrigan told members last week it stayed in Harpsden  parish as it would “sit better” because of its rural nature.

He added: “Having looked at the site it’s in a different position than we actually thought at the time.”

He said the town council should write to the district where it would take its request to its community governance committee, which will meet in the summer.

He said he believed they would look upon it “favourably” and the work had to be completed in 12 months. However, it would not be implemented until 2019.

“The review would look at what ward they [potential future residents] should sit in,” he added.

Guidance from the district council says a parish or town council can pool Community Infrastructure Levy funds with another council, as long as it falls within the definition of what it can be spent on and is spent within five years.

Councils should also work closely with neighbouring councils and the district to agree on spending priorities. The town council will invite district council officers to its next finance meeting on May 24 to get more information on the levy.

Highlands Farm is one of the 11 sites in the neighbourhood plan, which was approved at a referendum in March. A transport study, compiled by Peter Brett Associates, found that the development would see the most trips of people and vehicles.

A spokeswoman for the district council said: “We will pass 15 per cent of CIL funds to the parish where each development happens. This rises to 25 per cent in areas with an adopted neighbourhood plan. We’ll collect the money when building work starts.  Payments will be made via installments depending on how much is owed, or the entire amount within 60 days if they owe less than £20,000.”

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