“You must pay!” Council’s warning to developers
Babergh District Council this week secured an out-of-court settlement of £163,590 in unpaid Community Infrastructure Levy from developers Marden Essex Ltd.
Developers are required to pay Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) when building new homes in Babergh – ensuring that local facilities keep pace with housing growth and supporting the council’s ongoing ambition for its communities to be attractive, successful and connected places for people to live and work in.
However, having received planning permission back in March 2018 under the name of Marden Homes Ltd, the firm built and sold a development of 16 two and three-bedroom homes in Bears Lane, Lavenham without paying the agreed CIL to Babergh District Council.
Babergh’s CIL framework also provides for a proportion of CIL awards to go the local parish council – 25% in the case of villages with adopted Neighbourhood Plans such as Lavenham – with non-payment leaving Lavenham Parish Council out of pocket and jeopardising much-needed community improvements.
The case was due to be heard in court today (Friday), but the firm has since settled the claim in full, citing the current economic climate as the reason for the delayed payment.
Cllr Clive Arthey, Babergh’s cabinet member for planning said:
“We understand how difficult the current economic climate is for many firms and will always try to work with organisations to come up with mutually acceptable arrangements and payment plans before taking legal action. However there comes a point when enough is enough, and developers must pay their contribution to the local community.
“The CIL we distribute plays a major role in helping our towns and villages provide the necessary infrastructure in order to keep pace with housing growth – and Babergh District Council will not give up pursuing contributions owed by developers to our communities.
“CIL funds have already been committed to improvements at Lavenham’s existing car parks and toilets, and for a new car park in Water Street. Together with other projects, Lavenham Parish Council is working with Babergh to use CIL receipts for the provision of much needed community facilities. It is incredibly difficult to plan and deliver these projects when developer contributions are not forthcoming.”
Lavenham Parish Council Chairman, Cllr Iain Lamont said:
“The projects we have underway this financial year rely on Neighbourhood CIL payments. The potential default of Marden Homes making payment for the Bears Lane development could have forced us to cancel projects before completion and this would have caused this community significant problems.
“There must be some level of protection and support given to parish councils for defaulted or delayed CIL payments. Fortunately we have sufficient reserves, and have CIL payments due October 2022 from other developments in the village to cover the shortfall, but other parish councils may not be in this position and could be in severe financial difficulties.”