The council is sitting on over £20 million in contributions from developers which could be spent on public infrastructure projects, it has emerged.
Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 contributions are paid by developers in return for being allowed planning permission for their proposed schemes with the monies intended to be used for social and community infrastructure projects such as tree planting, public art, employment and skill training, education, open space and libraries.
The Council’s Infrastructure Finance Group (IFG) which was established in July 2012 decides which projects are worthy.
It oversees the processes for providing access to possible funding of projects from Section 106 agreements and Community Interest Levy but it is unclear who sits on the IFG and how often it meets but it is likely to include officers and councillors. Even when money is assigned to specific projects it isn’t necessarily spent on them.
For instance a total of £3,582,344 of Section 106 income was meant to be distributed in 2019/20 but only £775,674 of money secured under these agreements was spent.
Unspent money includes £275,000 on the Playground Investment programme which is meant to see the initial regeneration of three playgrounds in the borough which should have been completed in Summer 2020. However, work on upgrading playgrounds in Northwood Road, Grangewood Park and New Addington haven’t even begun and no start date has been forthcoming. A report to the council’s streets, homes and environment scrutiny sub-committee was told the council has £17million available to spend – a difference of £5.5million from the £22.5million figure provided to Property Week in response to a freedom-of-information request.
The March scrutiny report goes on to say as of December 2020 the S106 balance in Croydon stood at £4.7million while the CIL balance was £12,544,171. This was as of March 31 last year so could now be more. In November, Crystal Palace Football Club agreed a £1million community levy deal as part of the redevelopment plans for their stadium.
S106 agreements are negotiated between the developer and council based on the specific needs of the community while CIL is predetermined as applied to the gross internal floorspace of the net additional development liable for the levy.
This includes 15 per cent of the borough’s levy going towards the ‘Local Meaningful Proportion’ which in 2020-21 was £3.9million and included funding for Community Ward budgets where councillors allocate funding to local projects which was frozen due to the Section 114 restrictions.