When a new house is built, a planning charge called the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) has to be paid to the local authority. A relief claim can be obtained, for example for social housing or if someone is building a house for their own occupation.
In a recent case, Mr Lee Jones had obtained planning permission to build a detached house. The CIL was assessed at £38,862, but as he was a self-builder, he received an exemption under the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010.
The exemption was subject to submitting a commencement notice before the development started. Mr Jones sent the local authority official an email, stating that works would begin the following day. The authority acknowledged his email.
However, a month later, the local authority issued a CIL demand because it had not received a 'commencement notice'. It deemed the commencement date to be the date of its demand.
Mr Jones appealed to the planning inspector, who held that the email to the local authority had complied "in spirit" with the CIL regulations. He found that the correct commencement date was the date named in the original email.
The council appealed and won. A "commencement notice" was a notice submitted under the CIL regulations, not simply a notice informing the charging authority of the commencement date. Mr Jones lost the CIL relief and had to pay the £38,862.
The moral of the story is to ensure that legal requirements are properly read, understood and complied with otherwise unintended consequences will follow.