7 July 2019

REnslade House becomes a purpose built student blockExeter Green Party say that a policy offering discounts to developers of student accommodation in the city has lost the council almost £1 million. The Community Infrastructure Charging Levy (CIL), currently applies a 50% ‘discount’ on levy fees compared to domestic construction. In St David’s ward alone, developers have only been charged £938,000 compared to almost £1.876 million if the levy had been applied at the same rate as residential construction.

Diana Moore, councillor for St David’s ward, which has experienced a huge rise in purpose built student developments in recent years, said: 

“The current charging levies are not fit for purpose. Developers have walked away with huge profits while what they pay through the levy structure has failed to provide the local infrastructure necessary for such developments.

“A new charging structure which abolishes the 50% lower rate for student developments is long overdue. Given the significant and vibrant contribution students make to life in Exeter, it would be reasonable that a new form of relief be applied, but only where truly affordable accommodation is to be provided. We need affordable homes for all young people in the city.”

Cllr Diana Moore will table a motion on behalf of the Progressive Group to this effect at the next full Council meeting. It is being seconded by Liberal Democrat, Cllr Kevin Mitchell and supported by the other councillors on the Progressive Group: Independent councillor Jemima Moore and Liberal Democrat Michael Mitchell.

Liberal Democrat Cllr, Kevin Mitchell said "Measures to try and bring Houses in Multiple Occupation back into use as family homes have failed. Therefore, there is no justification for the current reduced levy for all forms of Purpose Built Student Accommodation to continue."

Independent Councillor Jemima Moore said:

"The upcoming review of student accommodation policy by the council must bring an end to the incentives to developers to build luxury student accommodation, which is unaffordable for many students"

 

Notes:

Motion submitted to Exeter City Council to be discussed on 23rd July:

 

Community Infrastructure Levy for Purpose Built Student Accommodation

Council welcomes the review of its current Student Accommodation policy for the city.

Council Notes:

Council notes the purpose of the community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)‘ is expected to “Have a positive economic effect on development across a local plan area.”  The current CIL charging statement was adopted for Exeter on 15th October 2013.

The rapid construction since this date of purpose built student blocks (PSPBs), particularly in the city centre wards has already bought forward a 8,017 bed spaces and 2,802 are currently in construction.

That while developers have enjoyed a discount on the CIL levy compared to housebuilders, a significant number of the PBSBs been priced and marketed as ‘luxury’ accommodation. These are not affordable to many students nor do they help achieve the Council’s goal of encouraging students to take advantage of this accommodation rather than in Houses of Multiple Occupation.

Councils therefore resolves:

1.     The CIL charging schedule rate for Purpose Built Student Housing no longer serves a useful purpose and has a disproportionate affect on the city centre wards of the local plan area.

2.     To bring forward a new charging schedule as soon as possible to replace the current schedule.

3.     A new charging schedule will no longer apply a lower charging rate of CIL to purpose built student housing compared to residential charging. However, a relief may be applied where affordable student accommodation is to be provided (to be defined in the new schedule).

4.     That until such time a new Charging Schedule is adopted by the Authority Section 106 agreements are put in place on PBSBs to make such developments acceptable in planning terms. These agreements must include specific benefits for the local community, and may be up to the equivalent to the CIL levy contribution for an equivalent sized residential development.