Our planning department received an early present just before Christmas, namely: a positive appeal decision from the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) relating to a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) charge imposed by Cornwall Council.
We had previously acted as a planning consultant to a property owner in coordinating the preparation, submission and negotiation of a planning application for nine park homes on a site in the Cornish countryside and planning permission was received in June 2019. This included a CIL charge; CIL is a charge which can be levied by local authorities on new development to help them deliver the infrastructure needed to support development. However, as the permitted park homes complied with the legal definition of a ‘caravan’, we advised our client that CIL should not apply to the development.
Our client subsequently appointed us to seek a review of the Council’s decision under Regulation 113 of the CIL Regulations, and then to lodge an appeal under Regulation 114, should the Council maintain its view that CIL is applicable. Whilst the Council issued several revised CIL Liability Notices, each reducing the CIL charge, the final version still sought a charge. We were also aware that the Council had previously imposed CIL charges to other similar developments elsewhere across the county but no operators or owners had previously been successful in overturning the decisions at appeal. We also suspected that other Council’s across England might begin to take similar approaches to park home developments when imposing CIL given that Cornwall Council was one of the first authority’s in the country, perhaps even the first one, to start charging bespoke planning application fees for these types of development (based on the number of units instead of a change of use of land) and several authorities have followed suit. Accordingly, we thought that if our appeal was not successful, it could create a precedent which would be of detriment to other operators and owners in the residential caravan park industry.
We prepared a robust Statement of Case based on our knowledge of the CIL Regulations, planning legislation, caravan and mobile home legislation, case law, permitted development rights and model standards, amongst other things. The VOA Valuer who issued the decision agreed with all of our arguments on the facts of the case and ultimately decided that the CIL charge should be £0 (nil). He concluded:
“The park homes are not permanently affixed to the land, are of a size small enough by unit to fall within the definition of caravan and are able to be moved from one place to another. I am of the view that it is irrelevant whether there is a future intention to move the park home or not, the definition of caravan under the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 makes no mention of intention, only capability.”
As a result of this decision, the viability of the project is not in doubt and our client no longer needs to pay CIL.
Please contact Owen Pike if you want to discuss this appeal decision or if you require planning advice or assistance.