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Developer charge makes Sidmouth priciest place to build

Archant

A new charge on development will make it more expensive to build in Sidmouth than nearly anywhere else in East Devon.

But the extra money could be used to fund projects elsewhere in the district under the rules of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Last week East Devon District Council (EDDC) approved a six-week consultation on the new charge, which unlike its predecessor has different costs for developments in different towns.

A report prepared for the council’s Development Management Committee said Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton and other coastal and rural areas have ‘very different viability characteristics’ to other towns in East Devon.

The study concluded there should be two separate charging zones, meaning developers will have to pay £125 per sqm of new build in Sidmouth, but only £80 per sqm in other towns like Ottery, Exmouth or Honiton.

This would see a housebuilder in Sidmouth having to pay more than three times the amount towards infrastructure costs than under the current system, known as Section 106 agreements.

Currently anyone who builds a new three-bedroom house of around £90 sqm has to pay a £3,700 open space contribution, but current draft charges under the CIL would see it go up to £11,250.

Section 106 money can only be spent in the area the houses are built, but CIL money can be spent anywhere in the district, regardless of where the development it.

The council report said a ‘meaningful proportion’ of the money needs to be passed on to the town or parish council where the houses are built.

But the majority will be at EDDC’s disposal, meaning money collected from developments in Sidmouth could fund infrastructure miles away and of no benefit to the town.

The preliminary draft charging schedule is out for consultation until the end of March, and the council want it be examined alongside the draft Local Plan, and expect it to be implemented from April 2014 onwards.

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