Council Creates Development Investment Fund to Help Tackle Inequality

Sheffield_skyline

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet have agreed to change how money collected from the Community Investment Levy (CIL) is invested in local communities, creating a new pot of funding that will be spread fairly across all of Sheffield.

CIL is a tool for local authorities to deliver infrastructure to support improvements in an area. Since the Council began charging CIL in 2015, developers can be liable to pay a charge, or ‘levy’, when building in an area.

15% of this levy goes into a neighbourhood pot. This money is then used to support local infrastructure needs. The money agreed and collected in this portion currently stands at around £1.5 million and the Council wants to invest this to ensure that there is the right infrastructure to support the city’s continued development.

Labour, who has overall control of the Council, started a public consultation about spending the money in a fairer way across the city, to direct funds to the communities where they are actually needed. It was also argued by Labour councillors that land values are lower in many less affluent areas and therefore they receive very little in CIL funds, and sometimes none at all.

The approach agreed by the Council’s Labour Cabinet ensures that every area of the city receives investment, based on a fair and nationally agreed formula.

The Council led consultation ran for five weeks and had hundreds of respondents. There was backing for Labour’s proposal and many commented positively on prioritising areas of Sheffield in the greatest need through the Indices of Multiple Deprivation.

There were some objections to the plans, but in total just 30% disagreed with the new redistribution proposal.

Interestingly, there was significant support in areas like Dore and Totley (57% approval) and Fulwood (75% approval), despite the fact these areas have the highest land values are funds collected through CIL.

Commenting on why Labour is changing how these investments are made, Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development and Transport, said:

“At present wealthy parts of the city receive far more Community Infrastructure Levy, but some of the city’s least affluent areas receive less or nothing at all, because land values are lower. In addition, developers are often not required to pay CIL if they are building in areas of greatest deprivation. This is a sensible way to kick-start much needed development, but it means some areas of our city lose out, whilst the wealthiest parts continue to acquire more, making inequality worse.

“Labour’s new approach will help in our ongoing efforts to tackle inequality so that our whole city can benefit from development, not just a few areas. This is by far the fairest way of investing in communities. You would hope that all opposition councillors would get behind these plans, but frustratingly they are not doing so. Thankfully Labour have a fairer, more prosperous vision for Sheffield”.

 

Councillor Jim Steinke, whose team will manage the Development Investment Fund gave his support for the Cabinet report:

“I am delighted that the public consultation has given us the backing to making these changes. Labour has argued that there is a strong moral, and economic, argument for implementing these changes and I am delighted that Sheffield agrees with us.

“I want to reiterate again that Communities that are directly affected by developments will still get what they deserve – new play equipment, green spaces or measures to tackle increased traffic – but we will be able to assess this need more thoroughly, across the whole city.

“It is a shame opposition councillors aren’t supporting this. The Greens are arguing for keeping the neighbourhood CIL money just for the wards with most development in, many of which just so happen to have Green councillors! For instance in City ward, where a lot of recent development has taken place, Green councillors want to keep the CIL money here rather than spend it where it may be more needed more. This is “pork-barrel” politics of the worst kind!”

“It cannot be right that places like Ringinglow and Totley get hundreds of times more than residents in Halfway and Westfield. This is why Labour sought public opinion and now we have their backing we can implement a funding plan for the whole city”.

fair2

Advertisements

Response to Government’s Latest Fracking Announcement

 

https3a2f2fblogs-images-forbes-com2fucenergy2ffiles2f20182f022ffracking-stock-2-1200x800

Central government today announced measures to support the development of British Shale Gas through local planning systems.

Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet for Development and Transport, Councillor Jack Scott, responded by saying: 

“We need a revolution in renewable energy, not more dirty fossil fuels.

But today it is clear that the government wants to press on with a reckless dash for gas, regardless of evidence, public opinion or the impacts on local communities.

This approach is an unwelcome mix of caving into the fracking industry and ploughing ahead with existing plans for fracking regardless of local views.

Despite their empty words about local consultation, the government is setting a dangerous precedent in taking away local decision making on planning decisions, and putting it in the hands of Tory ministers. This could see fracking unfairly imposed on areas against the will of local communities.

Labour has repeatedly made it clear we believe local communities do not want fracking in their area and we will continue to support our communities working to resist the unwanted advances of fracking companies, motivated purely by the huge profits they will make and not the legacy they will leave.”

Multi-million pound flood defence scheme submitted to planners

Plans to improve protection from flooding for businesses in the Lower Don Valley have taken a step forward after planning applications for the project were submitted by Sheffield City Council.

The proposals have been developed by the Council working closely with the Environment Agency, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and representatives from affected businesses in the city.

The plans relate to three specific sites – Savile Street Saw Mill, land close to Sanderson’s Weir and Meadowhall Road. They involve the construction of new flood walls, raising and reinforcement of existing structures, reinforcement of vulnerable bridge parapets and installation of flood gates.

The designs will enhance the local character and environment, and retain and improve the views and access to the river wherever possible.

In total, the project will deliver nearly 40 separate interventions along the 8km stretch of the River Don between Nursery Street in the city centre and the Blackburn Brook near the M1 motorway.

The project will also put in place essential channel clearance and maintenance which will compliment the new defences. This will aim to improve current standards of flood protection, which are estimated to provide as low as 1 in 25-year event standard, to the target of 1 in 100-year event standard.

Cllr Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is an innovative partnership between the Council, the Environment Agency and the private sector. We can achieve a lot by working together like this.

“This will establish a long-term mechanism for managing the River Don as a safe and attractive feature.  Flood defences are clearly required. The project is excellent value for money and it should give businesses much better protection than there is now.”

Sheffield City Council recently approved a total budget of £8.1million for the flood defences project, subject to funds being secured.

Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has already provided £5.5m and an application is being submitted for a further £1.2million from the Environment Agency.

But the success of the project is reliant on the support of businesses in the Lower Don Valley backing the planning application, granting access for construction and importantly voting to contribute to the costs through a Business Improvement District (BID) which would generate £1.4million.

The business contribution will cover part of the building cost and will also ensure the river channel is properly maintained and kept clear over the next five years.

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Sheffield City Council believe a BID is the best way to generate the private sector contributions.  It would see more than 250 affected companies in the Lower Don Valley making a payment calculated on their rateable value over a fixed period of five years.

Under the proposal more than half of businesses in the BID area would pay less than £2,500 over five years towards the flood defences and river management.

A BID has to be approved by a majority vote of businesses balloted on the plans. This is expected to take place in December 2013.

A prospectus and full business plan about the flood defences and the BID will be made available shortly to affected businesses to allow them to make their decision on how to vote.

A series of public events are also planned in the next two months to ensure that voters fully understand the proposed project and the implications of the BID for their business.

BIDs are common in other large cities, but this would be the first for Sheffield, and the first in the country to deliver a construction scheme such as flood defences.

Richard Wright, Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, added: “The project should help existing businesses get insurance cover and it would give potential investors increased certainty regarding the feasibility and security of development sites.

“It provides the knowledge that a flood defence project for the 8km stretch of river will be delivered to strengthen the viability of this vital economic area for the region.”

The aim is to have a full funding package secured by early 2014 to enable the start on site immediately, with physical completion in mid-2015.

The project comes at a time when the Lower Don Valley has been defined as the core of the Enterprise Zone for the Sheffield City Region aiming to attract further investment and development in modern manufacturing in the area. Flood risk has been identified as a key obstacle to growth.

The Sheffield Lower Don Valley area was severely flooded in 2000 and 2007 causing massive disruption and multi-million pound damages to hundreds of businesses, power, transport and telecommunications infrastructure.

For more information about the Sheffield Lower Don Valley flood protection project visit http://www.scci.org.uk/home/projects/sheffield-lower-don-valley-flood-defence-project