BATHURST developers planning to build 2,350 homes in Cirencester have slammed an "inaccurate and misleading" letter that questioned why the development was exempted from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The anonymous letter published on the Standard's website on November 30, said that the CIL exemption would result in a "significant cost saving for the developer and loss of income to Cirencester".

But BDL have hit back at the writer, explaining that it is often the case that major developments like the Chesterton one are excluded from CIL because of "the abnormal and exceptional infrastructure costs associated with delivering these types of strategic sites".

Instead of paying into a large pot as with CIL, a S106 legal agreement can be used instead, as is the case with Chesterton.

BDL said in a statement: "The S106 legal agreement is far more transparent as the specific costs for the necessary infrastructure can be easily identified and scrutinised."

The housebuilder explained that it was assumed by Cotswold District Council that the Chesterton development would contribute £32million of S106 costs.

But the current planning application sets out a S106 package of just over £50million which goes towards a range of things including: education, public transport, offsite highways improvements, green infrastructure, parks and open spaces, community an sports facilities, police and broadband.

A further £50m will be required for onsite infrastructure including significant earthworks, drainage and utility requirements.

More than 40 other local authorities have taken a S106 approach to delivering infrastructure for larger strategic sites instead of CIL. These include Central Bedfordshire, East Dorset, Basingstoke and Dean, South Somerset, Mid Devon, Stroud, Cherwell, Vale of Whitehorse and South Oxfordshire. 

The Chesterton scheme will however be paying CIL on the retail elements. 

The developer added in its statement: "The CIL Charging Schedule was subject to independent scrutiny by an Examiner on December 5.

"The examiner supported the approach set out by the council in zero rating Chesterton, albeit his report is awaited."

A spokesperson for Cotswold District Council said that during a CIL examination on Tuesday, the inspector stated that there was “Nothing to suggest in evidence that anything other than zero rate is justified”, in relation to the CIL rate for residential development at Chesterton.