A developer has been ordered to pay an extra £500,000 towards local infrastructure after it lost an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate over a £1.6m Community Infrastructure Levy bill.
The owners of Bushey-based Heronslea Ltd had argued that they were only liable for £1.1m in CIL, because the development of 55 homes off Bushey Hall Drive included affordable housing and qualified for social housing relief.
However, the Planning Inspectorate upheld Hertsmere Borough Council’s decision to remove the relief and include surcharges amounting to over £175,750 for late payment. Heronslea Ltd had failed to pay the levy when they were ordered to in the council’s demand notice.
In this case, no commencement notice was submitted and council officers only noticed work had begun during a routine visit.
In his report, the planning inspector found: “To me, the CIL Regs clearly articulate what must be done by the developer before commencing work on the chargeable development.
“The requirements must be rigidly followed and satisfied in full otherwise a failure to comply has serious consequences and there is little, if any, room for discretion: hindsight has no role.”
The inspector added: “Commencing operations before submitting a valid CN and obtaining an acknowledgement receipt from the CA marked a significant turning point in the site’s history.
“While failure to comply with CIL Regs 67 was either an unfortunate event or a highly risky strategy, it is, nevertheless, a flagrant breach of the regulations.”
Cllr Dr Harvey Cohen, Hertsmere’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “I welcome the Planning Inspector’s decision in this case and hope it serves as an example for others.
“The Community Infrastructure Levy or CIL is an important tool for local authorities to use to support growth in their area.”
Cllr Cohen added: “We expect all developers working in Hertsmere to meet CIL regulations to the letter. Obviously we’re happy to work with any developers who are unclear about the regulations - our planning team is always available to offer specialist advice.
“However, in this instance, the developer knew the rules and chose to ignore them and now they have incurred a huge bill as a result.”