A recent High Court case cost a self-builder almost £40,000 in the loss of CIL exemptions.
The High Court decision, Shropshire Council v Secretary of State for the Communities and Local Government  EWHC 16 (Admin), showed the importance of understanding CIL forms and how to submit them precisely and in a format set out in the CIL Regulations. Doing them incorrectly could cause self-builders to pay unnecessary penalties and surcharges.
In this court case, a self-builder was granted planning permission from Shropshire Council for the building of a detached home with a triple garage. The self-builder also received a certificate from the Council confirming a self-build exemption from the assessed CIL liability of approximately £36,860.
To fully benefit from the self-build exemption, applicants must complete a Commencement Notice form before starting the work. The self-builder asserted he had sent an email in July to the Council, which he believed served as a valid notice that the building would begin on 11 July 2015.
On 13 August 2015, the Shropshire Council sent the self-builder a demand notice, which required immediate payment of the full CIL amount and a surcharge of £2,500 as a valid Commencement Notice had not been given prior to the work starting.
Then, the applicant successfully appealed the notice as the inspector agreed that the email worked as a Commencement Notice. However, Shropshire Council challenged the decision, and the court ruled in favour of the Council as the CIL Regulations outline a specific procedure, and the email failed to meet those requirements.
In January 2019, the judge ruled that the regulations are clear that failing to provide a valid Commencement Notice before development starts constitutes a loss of the self-build exemption, and it was clear the self-builder's email had failed to meet the requirements of Regulation 67. The judge's ruling confirms that all procedural requirements must be followed.
Because of this ruling, the self-builder lost the ability to claim the self-build exemption and was required to pay the entire CIL fee, in addition to the surcharge, which equaled almost £40,000 in total.
A range of financial penalties are able to be imposed if CIL Regulations are not followed. Sometimes this can even amount to 20% of the chargeable amount if the Authority hasn’t received a notice of chargeable development when the development has started. This confirms that CIL Regulations will be interpreted strictly.
How a town planner can help self-builders
Taking advice from a chartered town planner can be extremely beneficial to self-builders throughout the planning process, especially to ensure that penalties like this one don't happen. As it's vital to properly follow CIL Regulations and submit the forms before work commences on the site, hiring a town planner can assure self-builders these get done correctly.
Mark Doodes Planning has worked on numerous self-build projects and offers valuable experience and knowledge of CIL forms and regulations.