E3 Consulting warns against missed opportunity in planning shake-up  

ADVICE: E3 Consulting managing director Alun Oliver has warned about planning reforms. E3 is a property tax specialist

ADVICE: E3 Consulting managing director Alun Oliver has warned about planning reforms. E3 is a property tax specialist.

Property tax specialists have called for more details about ‘disappointingly vague’ proposals for a shake-up of planning infrastructure charges unveiled in the Queen’s Speech.

E3 Consulting has welcomed the reforms outlined in the government’s landmark Planning Bill but has warned against introducing a one-size-fits-all system.

The government aims to create a new Infrastructure Levy to replace the existing system of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charges and Section 106 agreements.

These ‘taxes’ are applied by local planning authorities across England and Wales to fund vital infrastructure for their communities but look set to be dismantled or merged to create the new levy.

Alun Oliver FRICS, who is managing director of E3 Consulting, said: “Modernisation of the whole planning system is long overdue.

“The reforms in the Queen’s Speech were very welcome but details about the new Infrastructure Levy were disappointingly vague, despite last summer’s white paper.

“We need more information and robust consultation as soon as possible so the industry can ensure the changes don’t become a missed opportunity.”

Alun added: “Exemptions for certain types of developments need to be retained and extended in some cases.

“Meanwhile, a uniform rate across the whole spectrum of development nationwide could prove to be unworkable, unfair and, in some cases, damaging.

“Flexibility for local planning authorities to adjust the levy depending on their area’s circumstances needs to be taken into account along with distinctions between residential and commercial developments.

“Greater transparency and simplification in the planning process can help unlock development potential and act as a catalyst for economic regeneration but only if it’s not at the expense of those it is designed to help.”

The infrastructure charge reforms were included in a government White Paper and then confirmed in the Queen’s Speech for the Planning Bill, which is expected to be brought before Parliament in the Autumn.

Other proposals in the Planning Bill included zoning of development land, reducing the time it takes for developments to pass through the planning system and simplification of the framework for environmental assessments.

Southampton-based E3 Consulting, with offices in Bournemouth and London, has been raising awareness about the complexities of CIL and advises developers and home owners on how best to manage their risk and reduce CIL where possible.

E3 is hosting a webinar on CIL and planning issues facing developers on June 10, 2021.

It says that developers and individuals can save money through CIL reliefs or exemptions but only if any issues are fully resolved before work starts.

E3 Consulting is headquartered at Ocean Village in Southampton. It provides specialist property tax advice to owners, investors and occupiers of UK real estate. The business advises on Capital Allowances, Land Remediation Relief, VAT, Repairs and Maintenance and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).