The importance of rigidly following the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations has been highlighted by a recent High Court decision.

A self-builder obtained planning permission for a detached house, on which the CIL was assessed at £36,861. To benefit from the self-build housing exemption from CIL he had to send a commencement notice to Shropshire Council before the date the development was started. He did notify the Council by email when the works were due to commence, but did not follow the strict requirements for notices set out in the CIL Regulations. The Council did not accept the email as a CIL commencement notice and the High Court agreed with the Council. The self-builder lost the benefit of the exemption and had to pay the full amount of the CIL and a £2,500 surcharge for commencing development without submitting a commencement notice.

The CIL Regulations set out a specific process which must be strictly complied with in order to benefit from an exemption. The costs of not doing so can be very high. The government is currently consulting on changes to the CIL regime which, if implemented, would cap the penalty for a late commencement notice at the lower of £2,500 or 20% of the CIL which would have been chargeable. It has however decided against introducing a grace period for submitting a commencement notice.

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