Green Party joins row over community cash

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

Green councillors have joined with the Lib Dems in condemning plans to change the way community cash is handed out in Sheffield.

The Community Investment Levy is a charge on all new developments including housing, shops, commercial buildings and hotels. The money is used to provide infrastructure - such as play equipment or highway improvements - to support new developments and benefit residents.

Labour says there is a “strong moral argument” for allowing CIL money to be spent across the city. So a development in Oughtibridge, for example, could fund new playing fields on the Manor.

But Sheffield Green Party and the Lib Dems are critical. Both parties believe the funds should stay local and the Greens say residents should be fairly compensated for any impact of developments.

Green Councillor Douglas Johnson said: “This money is meant to benefit residents affected by big building developments.

“They have to put up with construction vehicles, noise and mud; parking obstructions and an increase in traffic; the loss of green space and open space; the loss of natural habitats, birds, plants and wildlife; restricted pavements and roads; increased anti-social behaviour; loss of views and light; and increases in litter and fly-tipping.

“These funds could mean improving small open spaces in the city centre, addressing traffic and parking arising from new developments or upgrading children’s play facilities in Sharrow and Highfield.

“Unfortunately, the Labour administration wants to take this money away and reallocate it with a top-down directive.”

The council began charging CIL in July 2015 so has already built up a pot of money. Eighty percent is spent on major citywide projects but row concerns how the remaining £1.1m “neighbourhood” portion is spent.  

Labour Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development, says it is fairer to share it.

“At present, wealthy parts of the city receive far more CIL, but some of the city’s least affluent areas receive nothing at all, because land values are lower.

“In addition, developers are often not required to pay CIL if wishing to develop in areas of greatest deprivation. This is a good way to kick-start needed development, but it means some areas of our city lose out, whilst the wealthiest parts continue to acquire more.

“There is a strong moral argument for allowing CIL money to be spent more widely, so that it benefits all of Sheffield.”