Further to securing a reduction of more than £80,000 on the Community Infrastructure Levy for an undisclosed client, Worcester-based Malcolm Scott Consultants is reminding clients that the charges imposed are not set in stone and can be challenged.

The business acted on behalf of the client to appeal against a £96,000 CIL liability calculated based on high street rental value back in 2018, and Andrew Burton of MSC said the case was still relevant for the industry: “It’s been ten years since the Community Infrastructure Levy was introduced and it continues to cause sleepless nights for garden centre and owners looking to enhance their properties by progressing their planning consents.

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“This tax is levied on certain types of approved new development, with retail development being a key sector, but contrary to widespread belief, the charge is not a fait accompli, and can in fact be challenged.

Andrew Burton

“In this instance, the rate originally applied by the Planning Authority to our client’s approved development amounted to £315/m², and we were tasked with submitting an Economic Viability Assessment on the centre’s behalf to prove that what they were being charged was not an accurate reflection of the centre’s rental value.

“We demonstrated that the charge had been calculated based upon unrestricted A1 use high street and shopping centre rental values per square metre – a figure up to 12 times higher than the garden centre’s rental value,” he explained.

MSC negotiated with the Council to that end, with the appeal being accepted and h the rate being dropped to a much fairer rate of £45/m².

Andrew added: ““My advice to anyone wanting to challenge a CIL Liability Notice would be to lodge an appeal as soon as it is received and focus on the Economic Assessment case, but to be aware that every case is different.  Chris Primett of MSC is a great source of information regarding the CIL charges and I would encourage business owners to contact him to see if we can help.

“CIL regulations do allow relief on a very limited range of development proposals but it is down to each individual Council to set their own rules on such relief. Over a period of several years the CIL paid may even out against the enhanced sales achieved from a wider range of non-garden related products, but owners face the dilemma of continuing to sell a typical range of garden centre goods or accepting a higher development tax should they choose to expand their shop space.”