Select Committee on Environmental Audit Twelfth Report

7  Sustainable infrastructure for new developments

77.  Our last report on this subject was very critical of the relative lack of emphasis the Government was placing on building supporting infrastructure—notably public transport—as opposed to simply building new houses. As we concluded:

We remain deeply concerned that ODPM is determined to build new homes first and then worry later, if at all, about how the supporting infrastructure can be provided. The communities that are created as a result of such a short-sighted policy will be anything but sustainable.[121]

78.  Since then the Government has devoted considerable attention to this issue. The memo from Defra and CLG summarised some of the main actions, not least the announcement of extra funding in the 2007 Pre-Budget Report:

At PBR 2007, the Government announced £732m for a new Growth Fund to support the delivery of infrastructure in the three newer Growth Areas and the Growth Points. From April 2008 this will provide unringfenced block funding to local authorities and partnerships based. This forms part of the wider £1.7bn funding for infrastructure in Growth Areas, New Growth Points and eco-towns. […][122]

Another of the main initiatives is the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL):

The Housing Green Paper set out different approaches to capturing a greater proportion of planning gain. Following discussions with stakeholders, the Government has made provision for a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) in the Planning Bill, introduced to Parliament in November 2007. CIL will enable local authorities to ensure that almost all developments, not just the major ones, make a fair contribution towards new community infrastructure needed to support growth. The new CIL powers are expected to come into effect by spring 2009 (subject to the Parliamentary timetable). Local authorities will then be able to establish charging regimes in their area. A public consultation on the draft CIL regulations is planned for the autumn. CIL is expected to raise hundreds of millions of pounds for investment in infrastructure.[123]

79.  We welcome the considerable attention the Government has devoted to delivering infrastructure for sustainable communities since our last report. We are concerned, however, that the Government is relying on private developers to provide this funding, through the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 funding, and that this may not be forthcoming in the current market downturn. We are also concerned that not enough priority will not be given to public transport and green infrastructure.

80.  We recommend that the Government ensures that minimum standards, delivering required sustainable infrastructure, apply to all new developments, to ensure that housing is not built simply with the promise of infrastructure to come—and which may never come due to reduced profits to house-builders. We also recommend that the Government controls the proportion of the planned investment in transport infrastructure for new developments that will be devoted to roads, and ensures that the proportion to be devoted to public transport is adequate to promote sustainability and the use of low carbon transport methods.

121   EAC, Sustainable Housing: A Follow-up Report, para 73 Back

122   Ev 92 Back

123   Ev 92 Back

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