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Developer levy 'not a planning benefit', public inquiry told

A multi-million pound payment could be made to the Royal Borough if an apartment complex in Windsor is given the go-ahead.

A public inquiry into an application for 217 flats, a five-storey office block and a café at the former Imperial House site in Alma Road ended this week.

The plans were turned down by councillors last year but developer Salmon Harvester Properties (SHP) lodged an appeal with the planning inspectorate after the council failed to make a decision within the agreed time.

On Tuesday, the inquiry, held at Windsor Racecourse, was told that SHP planned to make a £6.6m payment to the council if its appeal to deliver the project was successful.

The payment, known as a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), is a planning fee charged by local authorities to developers which can be reinvested into infrastructure.

Mark Beard QC, representing the Royal Borough, told the inquiry that the payment should

not be regarded as a reason to grant planning permission for the development.

He told the inquiry: “It’s clearly national policy that CIL should not be considered to be a planning benefit.

“In every case there must be a nexus between the CIL paid and the extent to which the amount that is paid is necessary to make aspects of the development

acceptable.”

He added: “It is certainly not evidence that the totality of the CIL payment should be considered a benefit.”

The council received about £823,000 worth of CIL payments for developments across the borough in 2017/18.

Gary Stevens, a planning consultant for Barton Willmore, told the inquiry that the multi-million pound payment would help address concerns over infrastructure in the surrounding area.

He said: “It’s part of a broader means of improving infrastructure and services throughout the borough and within the locality of the site.

“It’s money that’s clearly available to enhance these services so I see this as an overall benefit.”

Objector Raewyn Porteus asked the inquiry why the developer had not tried to include any family housing on the site.

In her address to the hearing, she said: “In terms of the design and build-to-rent scheme, this was about maximising the number of flats that could be placed on the site.”

Mr Stevens said the developer had chosen to pursue the build-

to-rent model as evidence had indicated family housing ‘wasn’t going to be appropriate’.

The inquiry finished on Wednesday and a decision is expected to be announced within three months.

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