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Local projects benefit from Community Infrastructure Levy

Tindal Square Artist Impression

Nearly 40 community projects that will benefit Chelmsford residents have been supported by Chelmsford City Council. These are funded from money collected by the council from development sites.

Projects include school expansion, public open spaces, community centres and local charities. The funds arise from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). CIL is a charge Chelmsford City Council applies to new developments to fund improvements to infrastructure. Developers make the CIL contribution on residential or retail developments in Chelmsford.

So far, the Community Infrastructure Levy has generated £33 million of funding for reinvestment.

How the CIL is spent

The CIL funds are split in a few different ways. Most of the money is spent on strategic infrastructure projects such as roads, schools, and community facilities.

A further 15% of CIL is spent on projects in local neighbourhoods. The allocation for neighbourhoods helps to address the demands of development locally. If development takes place within a parish, the City Council will give 15% of CIL funding to the parish or town tier council (25% if the parish has its own neighbourhood plan). They can then use the money on a project that will benefit their immediate neighbourhood. If an area doesn’t have a parish-tier council, then the City Council will invest the funds on their behalf, in consultation with ward councillors.

£100,000 of CIL money is made available for an initiative called the Greener Chelmsford Grant, which is specifically for ecological and green neighbourhood projects.

Strategic projects in Chelmsford

There are lots of CIL projects that have been completed or are underway in Chelmsford. The full list of CIL projects, including the amount of money spent and what it was for can be found on the City Council website.

Chelmsford Library Family Hub is a CIL project completed in 2018. £171,000 was awarded to Essex County Council, which they used to create an integrated children’s library and family hub space. This has allowed health care professionals; children’s centre staff and library staff to work together to provide a one stop shop for families. The city centre location makes this an accessible and central point for families to visit.

Chelmsford Library
Chelmsford Library

An upcoming project is the expansion of Trinity Road Primary School. £950,000 of CIL funds will be used to support two extra classrooms for the school, as well as toilets and a replacement kitchen and lunch bar. The upgraded facilities will be efficient and modern, making a big difference for the children and staff of the school. This project is currently underway.

A public realm project benefiting from CIL money is the city centre’s Tindal Square improvement scheme. Developer contributions of £3 million, as well as funding from the South-East Local Enterprise Partnership, have been used to create a new public space. Removing through-traffic and creating a prioritised pedestrian space has provided a new public square at the head of the high street next to Shire Hall. It will be a brand-new events and cultural space available for local community and arts groups to use, starting with the Chelmsford Takeover this weekend.

Councillor Mike Mackrory, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development thinks adopting CIL is a wise choice. He says:

“Adopting CIL has been an excellent decision for Chelmsford as we’ve been able to invest funds into loads of great projects. The developer contributions ensure positive benefits come from infrastructure development happening in Chelmsford. We want the growth of Chelmsford to happen in a controlled and sustainable way and CIL is a planning policy that makes additional good outcomes come from the city’s development. CIL projects have benefitted schools, libraries, and public realm improvements, as well as local charities, community groups and parish councils.”

Cllr Mike Mackrory, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development

CIL neighbourhood projects

Alongside the strategic projects, there are many examples of projects benefiting Chelmsford neighbourhoods.

In 2020, Chelmsford’s Age Concern received £236,500 of CIL funds to extend their existing premises. Growing demand meant they required a first-floor extension and the installation of a passenger lift. The CIL funds made this happen.

£300,000 was given to the homeless charity CHESS in 2021 to fund the development of an assessment and support centre for use by street homeless people. This allowed CHESS to fill gaps in the support available in Chelmsford and provide much-needed services to help tackle homelessness.

Langton Community Centre was awarded £152,000 of CIL funding in 2019. The 8th Chelmsford Scout Group used the money to construct a new community centre, replacing an existing building.

The Greener Chelmsford Grant

The Greener Chelmsford Grant uses funding from the neighbourhood CIL pot to specifically fund community projects that help the environment. Some examples of how money has been spent include a new wall and fence at the Marconi Ponds Local Nature Reserve and a community garden and wildflower meadow at St Andrew’s Church in Melbourne Avenue.

Marconi Ponds Local Nature Reserve
The Marconi Ponds Local Nature Reserve

Applying for CIL funding

The Community Infrastructure Levy is an ongoing arrangement and forms part of a wider infrastructure funding mix. Projects or organisations can express an interest in applying for CIL funding. Find out more about CIL, including the other projects that have received money at: https://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/community-infrastructure-levy.

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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.