Cambridgeshire Horizons unveils proposals for a three-tier planning tariff to replace section 106

Planners are drawing up a sliding scale of “roof tax” rates for developers wanting to build in Cambridgeshire’s housing hot spots.

Cambridgeshire Horizons, the body set up by the government to oversee development across the county, has unveiled proposals for a three-tier planning tariff to replace section 106 agreements.

Stephen Catchpole, chief executive of Horizons, said: “Instead of having a single charge we have got a series of standard charges.”

He said the highest tariff would be in Cambridge and its outskirts where land values were highest. Countryside Properties and David Wilson Homes are the housebuilders with the biggest holdings on the fringes of this fast-growing city.

Fenland, to the north of the city, would have the lowest levy because values there are much lower. The medium rate would be in and around the county’s market towns.

Catchpole refused to put a figure on the charges, but he said a report carried out for Horizons by Roger Tym and Partners, a planning consultant, estimated that land owners would be deterred from selling sites if councils asked for more than 45-50% of the gross land value.

John Reynolds, the planning chairman of Cambridgeshire council, who also sits on the Horizons board, said the scale of infrastructure needed to support development in the county meant that the charge ought to be at least double the £18,000 a dwelling charged in Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire.

Horizons unveiled its planning charge proposals after the publication of a plan for the east of England by the communities ministry.

This draft spatial strategy for the region, published the week before Christmas, backs proposals by Ropemaker Properties, an offshoot of BP, the oil company, to build a 10,000 home extension to Harlow in Essex in the green belt.

Brian Tisdall, portfolio manager at Ropemaker Properties, said: “We are pleased to see that government has confirmed the area has an important role to play in meeting the needs for new housing, employment and recreational facilities.”

With the relaxation of the Harlow green belt, the overall target for the region has been increased to 508,000 new homes, 30,000 more than the figure proposed by the local authority dominated east of England regional assembly. The plan covers the next decade.