This Neighbourhood Executive has been concerned for some time that all the processes regarding the charging of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) have gone ahead without any consultation with the neighbourhood forums. This is curious because the Localism Bill expressly states that properly constituted neighbourhood forums should be fully consulted and their priorities be used to account for spending of 15% now and 25% of the CIL once the Neighbourhood Plan is agreed by referendum.
Communities without a Parish, Town or Community Council will still benefit from the 15% neighbourhood portion (or 25% portion, if a neighbourhood plan or neighbourhood development order has been made). If there is no Parish, Town or Community Council, the charging authority will retain the levy receipts but should engage with the communities where development has taken place and agree with them how best to spend the neighbourhood funding. Charging authorities should set out clearly and transparently their approach to engaging with neighbourhoods using their regular communication tools e.g. website, newsletters, etc. The use of neighbourhood funds should therefore match priorities expressed by local communities, including priorities set out formally in neighbourhood plans.
The Government does not prescribe a specific process for agreeing how the neighbourhood portion should be spent. Charging authorities should use existing community consultation and engagement processes. This should include working with any designated neighbourhood forums preparing neighbourhood plans that exist in the area, theme specific neighbourhood groups, local businesses (particularly those working on business led neighbourhood plans), and using networks that ward councillors use. Crucially this consultation should be at the neighbourhood level. It should be proportionate to the level of levy receipts and the scale of the proposed development to which the neighbourhood funding relates.
We are pleased to have received the enclosed letter from Councillor Robert Davis today, clarifying their understanding of the issue. We welcome the fact Westminster City Council are aware of the duty to consult fully with the Neighbourhood Forums on the expenditure of the neighbourhood proportion of CIL. We look forward to fruitful discussions. Perhaps now some of the local issues like rubbish collection and the state of the streets can be properly addressed.
Here is our response:
Dear Councillor Davis,CILThank you for your letter received today, we have placed a copy of the letter on our website with this reply.We were aware of the procedures advised by government and thus slightly curious as to why the Neighbourhood Forums were not consulted at the time the council reviewed infrastructure expenditure.However, we accept that you will now be undertaking a wider consultation process to come to agreement with the new neighbourhood forums as to how that proportion of CIL should be expended.We assume that you will be contacting us again soon so that a process and programme of discussion can be devised that will lead to a final agreement with the various neighbourhood forums.I have put forward the suggestion that the West End Neighbourhood Forums have many priorities in common, and that it would be prudent to work together as a group. We await officers response to that proposal.In addition I note that government advice supports the involvement of Ward Councillors. Our Ward Councillors have not yet attended any of our executive meetings, but some of them have been present at our public consultations. We urge any of them that are not yet formal members of the forum to join, so that they automatically receive information about issues of importance to the community.We are holding another exhibition on Monday 11th January 2016, at the Getty Gallery Eastcastle Street from 11.00am to 8.00pm, where our draft policies and priorities will be made public. We do hope that your officers and politicians will want to attend. In particular we are holding a briefing in the evening and hope that as many as possible can come.We are looking forward to a positive and productive dialogue, and look forward to hearing more from your CIL team in the not too distant future.With best wishesWendy Shillam
27 November 2015
Thank you for your email of 27th November. My apologies for not responding to you sooner, but all of our efforts in this area have been focussed on the recent Westminster Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) public examination and the work arising from.
I am very grateful for your views on the importance of a positive and productive dialogue about the best and most effective way of involving neighbourhoods in agreeing how the neighbourhood CIL funding proportion will be spent. My team will be in touch again when we have developed proposals for discussion and your suggestion of a joint approach for West End neighbourhoods is an interesting one to which we will certainly give thought.
Thank you also for the information about your exhibition on 11th January. I have drawn it to the attention of my officers and Andrew Barry-Purssell, our Place and Investment Policy Manager and the City Council’s lead officer for CIL, will be in attendance.
Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL
Deputy Leader and
Cabinet Member for the Built Environment
Westminster City Council
15th December 2015Chair Fitzrovia West Executive Committee firstname.lastname@example.orgWendy Shillam MA RIBA MRTPI