THE NEIGHBOURHOOD COMMUNITY INFRASTRUCTURE LEVY (NCIL) DEBACLE
You are probably aware of the financial situation of Woking Borough Council (WBC) , culminating in a Section 114 notice being issued on 7th June 2023.
You may not be aware that one of the consequences is that Woking Borough Council (WBC) have spent the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) funds received prior to June 7th, amounting to around £1.8M, on their general expenses. This was admitted at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 14th August 2023, by, the then, Section151 Officer.
WBC maintains that they will meet their legal obligations in time and that this is a temporary position and that some of these frozen funds might become available in April 2024.
At the moment, local projects can only be funded by new NCIL received after the 7th of June 2023. The previous balance available was around £50,000. Also, as a result the decision made in April 2023 to support the use of some of the funds to assist a Pyrford Village War Memorial Hall project to the value of just under £10,000 is no longer possible.
As of the 11th of September 2023, in the Pyrford Neighbourhood Area the funds available to uses amounted to zero pounds.
The Forum Committee is very upset at this state of affairs. It seems that all the hard work of many people to get an adopted Neighbourhood Plan which increased the % of NCIL from 15% to 25% has been nullified.
The Forum will still continue its other activities but will continue to express it concerns at every available opportunity.
The Forum was pleased to have Cllr Liam Lyons attend its 11th September Committee Meeting to discuss both the current Core Plan to 2027 and the process for the replacement Woking Core Plan from 2027. The Forum did express forcefully but politely its frustration at the current stalemate on NCIL. Liam did indicate that he had contacted Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities of the United Kingdom, to see whether there was any possible way the frozen NCIL could be realised sooner.
WBC has formally notified the Forum as follows:-
“We would like to inform you that the Council continues to operate the Community Infrastructure Levy scheme and consider applications. However, due to the Council’s financial position, there will be a delay before resuming payments for approved applications until after the 2024/25 budget is agreed in February 2024. The financial position, and the Council being issued with a S114 Notice, has resulted in strict controls being placed on all expenditure across the Council while cash reserves are regenerated.
The Council will ensure that it meets all obligations under S216 of the Planning Act 2008 and Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (as amended).”
Two public statements have also been issued by the portfolio holder Cllr Liam Lyons which can be found under WBC News Items
https://www.woking.gov.uk/news/statement-community-infrastructure-levy-cil-funds dated 7th August and at
https://www.woking.gov.uk/news/update-statement-community-infrastructure-levy-cil dated 5th September.
PNF Chairman – 10 October 2023