A new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charging schedule for South Oxfordshire was approved by South Oxfordshire District Council on December 8. The schedule, which comes into effect early next year, will include some of the highest charge rates on residential development in the region. Jon Sebbage from Savills’ central planning team considers what the changes might mean for development in the district.

What is CIL?

CIL is a planning charge, introduced through the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, which is applied by local authorities to help deliver infrastructure to support local development.

The levy applies where a local authority has approved and published a CIL charging schedule, containing rates applicable to development in its area.  Most new developments which create net additional floor space of 100 square metres or more, or create a new dwelling, are potentially liable, subject to the provisions of the published charging schedule.

What is the current position regarding CIL in South Oxfordshire?

South Oxfordshire District Council approved its first CIL charging schedule in February 2016.  The charging schedule then came into force on April 1, 2016.

The 2016 charging schedule set a predominant base CIL charge rate of £150 per sq m (now £181.09 including indexation) on residential development across the majority of the district, with the exception of Didcot and Berinsfield which are subject to a CIL charge rate of £85 per sq m (now £102.62 per sq m including indexation) on new residential development.

Supermarkets, superstores and retail warehouses are subject to a district-wide CIL rate of £70 per sq m (now £84.51 including indexation).  All other new development within the district, including elderly persons accommodation, offices and hotels, is subject to a nil CIL rate.

Following the adoption of the new South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035 in December 2020, the council has prepared a new charging schedule to take into account new site allocations and infrastructure requirements.

What are the implications for development of this new charging schedule?

Notably, the new charging schedule will see significant increases in the CIL charge rate on residential development, compared with the current 2016 Charging Schedule which it will replace.

In contrast to the 2016 charging schedule referred to above, the new charging schedule includes CIL rates of £360 per sq m (minor schemes) and £325 per sq m (major schemes) on residential development in the Southern Parishes (21 parish areas south of Wallingford which include Sonning Common, Goring and Henley-on-Thames), with CIL rates of £200-£260 per sq m on residential development across the rest of the district.  The new CIL charge rates applicable to some developments in the district are therefore almost double the current CIL charge rates (2016 Charging Schedule rates plus indexation).

Significantly, the new CIL charge rates on residential development are now also applicable to elderly persons accommodation (including extra care, sheltered housing, assisted living and age restricted housing) which is currently subject to a nil CIL charge rate.

The table below provides a comparison of the current CIL rates (as approved in 2016) and the new CIL rates (coming into effect in early 2023) in South Oxfordshire.

  2016 Charging Schedule (charge per sq m) 2022 Charging Schedule (charge per sq m)
Development Zone 1: District Zone 2: Didcot and Berinsfield Zone 1: Southern Parishes Zone 2: Built up areas of Didcot and Berinsfield Zone 3: Rest of District
Major residential development (10 dwellings+) £150 (now £181.09 inc. indexation) £85 (now £102.62 inc. indexation) £325 £200 £225
Minor residential development (1-9 dwellings) £360 £215 £260
Elderly persons accommodation (including extra care, sheltered housing, assisted living and age-restricted housing) £0   As above
Strategic residential sites £0 £0
Student accommodation £0 £150

Flats/apartments of 3 storeys and above in Zone 2, including elderly persons


£0 £0 £103 £0
Build to Rent £0 £150
Supermarkets £70 (now £84.51 inc. indexation) £200
Retail warehouses £85

Comparison of SODC’s new CIL rates and those across the region

There are significant differences in the CIL rates currently being applied by neighbouring local authorities; however, it is clear that the new rates proposed in SODC are some of the highest.

Indeed only the Wokingham charging schedule (effective since April 2015) includes a higher CIL rate on new residential development (£365 per sq m excluding indexation) than the new rates proposed by SODC.  The other neighbouring authorities around SODC of Oxford City, Wycombe (now part of Buckinghamshire), Reading and West Berkshire all include significantly lower CIL rates of up to £125 per sq m on new residential development (excluding indexation).

Notably the majority of the neighbouring authorities around SODC also offer the ability for exceptional circumstances relief or charitable relief to be claimed (allowing potential relief from payment of CIL in certain instances).

It is important to note that the Viability Assessment (December 2021) (which accompanied the submission of the draft CIL charging schedule) identified that the proposed CIL rates in SODC are all viable.

However, inevitably there also remains some variation in values across the district and within the southern parishes area. There are therefore some developments (for instance that of elderly people’s  accommodation and development by charitable institutions) in lower value areas which are likely to be particularly impacted by the proposed increase in CIL rates in SODC.

What next?

The new schedule is expected to come into effect in early 2023.

In the short-term, the increased CIL rates will clearly be an important consideration upon the viability, deliverability and timing of new residential developments and elderly persons accommodation, as well as other liable developments, in the district – especially given the wider economic backdrop.

Developers in the district will now need to have an even greater focus on carefully balancing the various components – including the increased CIL rates, as well as infrastructure provision, design quality and climate change mitigation – in order to ensure the successful delivery of viable development.

In the long-term, and following the recent changes to national Government, it remains to be seen if and when the new Infrastructure Levy (announced in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in May 2022) will be introduced, and the associated implications on future new residential development within the region.

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