top of page

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) explained

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a payment required from certain types of development to fund infrastructure. It is secured as part of the planning process. The type of infrastructure that can be funded by CIL includes transport, flood defences, schools, hospitals and other health and social care facilities.

This image shows a Section 106 agreement which is used to secure planning obligations, like affordable housing. This type of agreement is usually negotiated between a council and a developer and linked to the grant of planning permission for new development such as housing or commercial buildings.
This image shows a Section 106 agreement which is used to secure planning obligations, like affordable housing. This type of agreement is usually negotiated between a council and a developer and linked to the grant of planning permission for new development such as housing or commercial buildings.

CIL is explained simply in this article, but if you are new to planning it is worth reading these explainer articles about planning applications. This will help you understand how CIL, a type of developer contribution, fits into the wider process. We also have a more specialist course - CIL Bill: An easy guide to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) - if you want to explore this topic in greater depth.

How CIL fits in with the planning system

It can be helpful to break down the distinct stages or aspects of developer contributions, these are:

  1. How requirements are set

  2. How these requirements are applied to planning applications

  3. How the requirements are monitored and delivered after permission is granted and once a development starts

CIL charge setting

Adopting CIL is optional; some authorities have chosen not to charge a CIL. But many local authorities have implemented it to help pay for infrastructure.

CIL can only be charged once a council has consulted on, and approved, and brought a charging schedule. The charging schedule sets out the CIL rates that will apply to development. Here are some examples of CIL charging schedules:

CIL charges are expressed as a rate in pounds (£) per square metre of development. CIL rates can be a flat single rate for all types of development or varied by use, area and scale of development.

Before a CIL charging schedule takes effect, it is subject to examination, a bit like a local plan examination. The examination tests whether an authority has struck an appropriate balance between the need for funding to support infrastructure and the potential effect on the viability of developments that will pay the charge National Planning Practice Guidance explains:

This balance is at the centre of the charge-setting process. In meeting the regulatory requirements, charging authorities should be able to show and explain how their proposed levy rate (or rates) will contribute towards the implementation of their relevant plan and support development across their area (see regulation 14(1), as amended by the 2014 Regulations).

CIL is separate to a local plan, but it does take account of policies in it. This is because to set a CIL charge all development costs, including those arising from planning policies in the local plan, such as the amount of affordable housing, need to be accounted for in setting rates.

Part of the evidence needed to set a CIL charge is evidence that there is a need for infrastructure funding - showing that the CIL is needed to fill a funding gap. But the most critical part of the evidence base for setting the CIL rate is evidence on development viability. If you Google ‘CIL viability assessment’ you will quickly see some examples of these evidence documents. If you have trouble understanding some of the content, Public Practice has produced some viability explainer sheets which might help.

Applying CIL to planning applications

CIL is non-negotiable. You can find out more on how CIL is calculated in Calculating CIL (National Planning Practice Guidance). Any development of one or more residential units or 100 square metres of floorspace or more is potentially liable to pay CIL if there is a charge for that use in the charging schedule. But there are exemptions and reliefs from payment available for certain types of development; these are explained in CIL Reliefs and Exemptions (National Planning Practice Guidance).

To aid the CIL charging process developers must provide information on forms at certain stages to the council. This is also explained in National Planning Practice Guidance and you can download CIL forms from the Planning Portal.

Administrating and spending CIL after permission is granted

A council officer will calculate the CIL amount that will be due, set this out in the liability notice and send it to the person who has assumed responsibility for paying. Developers will be required to tell the Council before they start a development - and the council will check and monitor this too. When development is due to start, the council officer will send a demand notice (a bill) with the amount CIL payable and when it is due.

CIL receipts collected are put into a pot which, as National Planning Practice Guidance explains, must be apportioned as follows:

  • 75% to 85% of CIL receipts can be used to fund infrastructure to support the development of an area such as schools, parks and transport projects (but the regulations specifically exclude affordable housing).

  • 15% (up to a defined cap based on the area population) is the neighbourhood element which can be spent more widely on anything that supports development (not just infrastructure), this rises to 25% (uncapped) where there is a neighbourhood plan in place.

  • Up to 5% can be spent on administrative costs

In London, the Mayor of London also charges a CIL. This is collected by councils in London and is transferred to Transport for London (TfL) to spend on strategic transport.

Different authorities have different approaches to spending CIL contributions. The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) have identified prioritisation and governance of spend as critical to supporting the delivery of sustainable development and growth. PAS has produced guidance on this subject for Local Authorities with the governance and spend process: Start with the spend in mind.

PAS Developer Contributios

Source: Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Website

Information CIL payments and the way these are spent are published annually by councils in a document called an Infrastructure Funding Statement. The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) has written guidance on what should be in this statement, see: Infrastructure Funding Statements Guide.

Why work on CIL and S106

CIL and Section 106 are essential to making development happen and delivering infrastructure and other projects that support communities impacted by growth from development. Your role will contribute to making sure this happens if you work on any part of the developer contribution process.

As explained above, there are different stages of the developer contributions process: how requirements are set (more aligned with preparation of local plans), how they are applied (which is part of determining a planning application) and how they are monitored and delivered post permission once a development starts. These different stages have different challenges and opportunities associated with them, and require different skills.

There is a particular demand for Section 106 and CIL monitoring officers who can work on the post permission stage in councils. For these roles, you need to be numerate, able to navigate legal documents and have good customer service skills. Detective skills to deal with older documents and complex cases can help too. For roles more focused on the ‘spending’ aspect of the role, your project and stakeholder management skills will also come into play as you work with others to ensure spend is in line with any legal requirements and is effective in supporting growth and development.

Learn More

If you are just starting out in a planning role or on a planning project, you can sign up for the course Planning in 60 Minutes: A simple guide to town planning (England). The course covers planning applications, local plans, developer contributions (section 106 and CIL) and more.

Ready to work in planning on Section 106 or CIL?

Head over to the ‘Work In Planning Jobs Board’ to see the latest opportunities to work on CIL and Section 106.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page