West Norfolk Council looks at changes to developer charges

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West Norfolk Council could receive £1.2 million to go towards the costs of major infrastructure projects under proposed changes to the charges placed on developers.

The council is considering moving away from the current Section 106 planning agreements to a community infrastructure levy (CIL).

Under some planning agreements, developers are required to make payments to fund improvements. Currently there are no set charges for these fees, which are decided during negotiations.

A total of £700,000 is currently accrued through the 106 agreements but this could rise to £1.2 million under CIL.

A bypass for Middleton and East Winch, re-modelling Lynn town centre’s one-way system or improving sea defences are among the projects which could receive a share of the funding.

Council committees will be discussing CIL during meetings over the coming weeks.

Leader of the council Nick Daubney feels the move would be good for developers and the authority.

He said: “CIL would give us more certainty and councils will be able to set their own rates.

“It would also be good for parish councils as a lot of money would go over to local communities.

“I think developers like it because it gives them budgeting certainty when they look at costs of development.

“We want young high quality people to stay in the area and be able to have good education and jobs that are nearer the national average in terms of income. That will require some growth to achieve this.”

The CIL mechanism was introduced by the Government in 2010.

The council is considering moving away from Section 106 as from April next year. It would be unable to pool more than five contributions and Section 106 would continue to apply to on-site facilities such as play areas and affordable housing.

Disadvantages of introducing CIL, according to a report to today’s resources and performance panel meeting, could be putting developers off and the charges are not negotiable.

The council has listed a number of potential projects which could receive a share of the funding.

This includes £5 million to remodel the one-way system in Lynn, £5 million for a link road for West Winch and £20 million for improvements to Hardwick junction.

Another potential project could be a £75 million bypass for Middleton and East Winch.

Calls have been made to improve the A47 through the two villages following a series of series of serious crashes.

A total of £30.8 million could be allocated to extending schools along with a total of £2.2 million for separate projects to improve sea defences in Snettisham and Lynn’s waterfront.

Funding also could go towards providing more care home places in Lynn, Hunstanton and Downham.

Other potential infrastructure projects could include £15 million for replacing Hunstanton’s promenade.

Police services also feature within the list of potential infrastructure projects.

A £2.5 million project to relocate/rebuild Lynn police station is mentioned along with £433,000 for additional services.