Leader of West Sussex County Council urges Government rethink on infrastructure levy

“I want to work with the Government in assuring an infrastructure levy that addresses the current one’s shortcomings without being detrimental to our communities”

The Leader of West Sussex County Council, Cllr Paul Marshall, is urging the Government not to implement the proposed infrastructure levy in its current form.

Cllr Marshall states that implementation of the levy would result in less infrastructure being built, fewer affordable homes and could impact negatively on housing delivery. Cllr Marshall’s letter in full to the Secretary of State for Levelling, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, says:

“Dear Minister,

Infrastructure Levy

The County Council notes that the County Councils Network has joined 29 other signatories in signing a letter calling on you to not implement the proposed Infrastructure Levy, warning that it could result in less infrastructure being delivered, fewer affordable homes being built, and could impact negatively on housing delivery.

The proposed Infrastructure Levy was discussed and debated at County Council on 17 July 2023, where there was unanimous, cross-party agreement that the Council shares these concerns, believing that the proposed Levy will have an adverse impact on securing much-needed community infrastructure, such as schools, roads and health facilities amongst others, with the required funding from housing developments not being secured as a result. The Council was also concerned that the detail of how the proposed Levy is expected to work could have unintended consequences which could actually lead to fewer new affordable homes being built.

The Council also notes that under the Government’s proposals, county councils would not have a statutory role in the Infrastructure Levy process despite the fact that upper-tier authorities are the providers of key infrastructure to support the delivery of new homes and other development. This would mean that local district and borough planning authorities would be able to ignore county council requests for developer contributions towards the vital infrastructure that new and existing communities will need as a direct result of the development. This includes the provision of new and improved schools, roads, public transport and active travel schemes, libraries, and other essential public services.

The Council strongly believes that county councils should be more than just statutory consultees in any future Infrastructure Levy process so that they can lobby, negotiate and advocate effectively on behalf of the communities they represent, to ensure that the infrastructure needs of those communities are met in full. Not only should there be a statutory role for county councils in the identification and prioritisation of infrastructure, there should also be a dedicated share of levy funds for upper-tier authorities.

Therefore, I am writing to you to request that the Infrastructure Levy is not implemented in its current proposed format.

As set out in its response to the technical consultation on the proposed Infrastructure Levy, the County Council would be happy to work with the Government and others to reform the current developer contributions system to address its shortcomings. However, if the Infrastructure Levy is retained as proposed, the County Council would also be happy to work with the Government and other key stakeholders to address the significant concerns identified by this Authority and many other organisations.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Paul Marshall, Leader, West Sussex County Council.”

 

Cllr Marshall said: “This is not the first time that local authorities have urged the Government to rethink the infrastructure levy as we join other county councils in expressing concerns at how the implementation could affect vital work in the county. I want to work with the Government in assuring an infrastructure levy that addresses the current one’s shortcomings without being detrimental to our communities who rely on the county council to ensure new developments come with the right infrastructure.”

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