Council urged to re-think West Norfolk infrastructure charge plan

Charles Joyce questioned the impact of the proposed community infrastructure levy charges
Charles Joyce questioned the impact of the proposed community infrastructure levy charges
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Developers will be asked to pay up to six times as much towards infrastructure for rural developments as they would for schemes in Lynn under new proposals.

Council leaders say the planned community infrastructure levy (CIL) for West Norfolk, which was backed at a meeting on Thursday, as a sensible approach to the issue.

But opponents have warned the measures could increase the pressure on services in and around Lynn.

Under the proposals, which will now be the subject of a consultation, the borough has been divided into three broad charging zones.

The levy has been set at £10 per square metre in Lynn, £40 in the south and west of the borough and £60 in eastern and north-eastern areas.

Some strategic sites in Lynn, Downham, West Winch and Walsoken will not have the levy imposed at all, while supermarkets and retail warehouses will be charged at £100 per square metre.

Cash generated from the charge would be used to help fund a range of infrastructure needs, ranging from roads to health provision.

But critics are worried the plan may make developers reluctant to build homes in villages where additional housing may be welcomed.

Labour’s Charles Joyce said: “I just look at this and think, if the CIL is set higher in one place than in another, a developer will go where it’s cheapest. That’s pretty natural.

“There may be mitigating circumstances but if villages are six times higher than King’s Lynn, that really does put pressure on developers not to develop in villages and there are villages across this borough that are struggling.

“Even God has given up on Crimplesham. It’s closed its church.”

But Sandra Squire replied: “He and God may have given on Crimplesham but the ward member, myself, and its residents have not.”

And deputy leader Alistair Beales said that, while he naturally opposed split charges, they had been based on detailed viability reports.

He said: “If the CIL is set at the level he feels is appropriate there wouldn’t be development. These levels have been researched and I think are appropriate.”

Leader Nick Daubney added: “This is a sensible approach to providing infrastructure we badly need.”