Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy Projects – Delay explained.

Our local councillors put forward 4 projects, proposed by residents, for funding from the over £250k Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) accumulated in the Wolvercote Neighbourhood area in the period before our plan was made. They were not accepted by Council Officers. Council policy is that projects from areas without a made plan have to be included in the annual City budget. The council, however, had failed to divulge to local residents and councillors in neighbourhoods without a made plan how they might influence decisions on the local portion of CIL. There is currently no process by which councillors can apply to have projects in the annual budget.

It is also Council policy that this pot of CIL funding can be used anywhere in the city, no matter where it is raised. Obviously, we think that the money should be used to mitigate the effects of development in the actual area where it takes place. The City Council thinks ‘the area’ is the whole city.

Andrew Gant, Liz Wade, and I had a meeting on Thursday 3 March to discuss this with the Chief Executive of the City Council. I attach a note of the paper we presented. We will keep you up to date.

We will now fund the 4 approved projects from the smaller pot of CIL money that became available after our Neighbourhood Plan was made.

Christopher Hardman
Chair Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum

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We attach the paper presented to Council Officers as follows without the examples illustrating the practice of other authorities:

Paper for the meeting with the Chief Executive of the City Council on Thursday 3 March 2022.

  1. The Neighbourhood CIL funds that have to be passed to the Neighbourhood Forum are public money, and it is the duty of the City Council to ensure that public money is used in accordance with the regulations. Therefore, what is needed is a clear statement of how this duty is to be discharged without undue delay in the allocation of funds. Many other authorities have been content to accept an annual report of expenditure.
  2. The tranche of Neighbourhood CIL money accumulated before the Neighbourhood Plan was made public in a City Council paper in June 2019, and in accordance with the regulations and information from the Council, it was assumed that there could be applications for funding from this fund for projects supported by local residents in the area where development had taken place. However, the applications made by local Councillors in 2021 were not accepted. They were told that applications could only be made as part of the annual City Budget. But there was no procedure for applying. Instead, there was an offer of consultation on the annual City budget, where there were a number of general projects without any specificity of where they would be implemented, and not including the projects put forward by Wolvercote local Councillors. This is contrary to the regulations that require evidence of consultation with local residents. Publicising very general projects within the whole budget is not sufficient. I have looked to see how other authorities, some in major cities, have interpreted the legal CIL regulations. The understanding of the CIL regulations and the way they are interpreted elsewhere is very different from Oxford. Residents will need an explanation of why that is the case. There is not a transparent application process for funding in Oxford, and no acknowledgment of wards either as the source or the recipient of the funds