Community Infrastructure Project Bids
On Monday 14 June, the Elmbridge Borough councillors for Weybridge and Oatlands and Burwood Park sat down to try and distribute around £202,500 from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund across 20 bids for funding received in 2020 and 2021. The total value of the bids submitted was over £1,257,000. This presented quite a challenge to your councillors at the Local Spending Board meeting.
What sort of projects?
The nature of projects requesting bids ranged from those submitted by Surrey County Council for local highway junction and cycleway improvements; those submitted by Elmbridge Borough Council for improvement of community assets and the majority, those from community organisations, charities and sports clubs, for improvements to their facilities and buildings.
For councillors this was a challenging task and one which we knew would result in disappointment for many of the organisations involved. Many very worthwhile projects were not granted any funding. See further below for details about the bid scrutiny process.
So which bids were actually granted funding?
In the event, nine bids were allocated funding as follows (see details of the bids below):
Application 1 – Seven Hills Road Footway/Cycleway (Surrey County Council) – Full grant of £50,000
Application 2 – Re-Surfacing of Car Park and Provision of Bike Rack (St Mary Oatlands Church) – Partial grant of £15,000 of the £30,000 sought
Application 3 – Baker Street Junction Improvements for Pedestrians (Surrey County Council) – Full grant of £25,000
Application 4 – Brooklands Community Park – Car Park Extension (Elmbridge Borough Council) – Full grant of £32,500
Application 6 – Scout HQ Repair & Camping Equipment Store (1st Weybridge (Brooklands Own) Scout Group) – Partial grant of £6,500 of the £22,500 sought
Application 8 – Cricket green improvement works (Weybridge Cricket Club) – Partial grant of £44,5000 against the £84,500 sought
Application 9 – Weybridge Men’s Shed (Weybridge Men’s Shed) – partial grant of £12,047 against the £34,803 sought
Application 10 – Walton & Hersham Arena Pitch Improvements: Floodlighting (Walton & Hersham Youth Football Club) – Full grant of £8,690.22
Application 13 – Hydrotherapy Pool Improvements (Walton Leigh School) – Partial grant of £8,341.85 against the £25,000 sought.
The bids in more detail
Seven Hills Road Footway/Cycleway (Surrey County Council)
The proposed project would replace the existing footpath with a larger multiuser path. It would enable increased safety and capacity for residents and formalise usage for both pedestrians and cyclists. It would also improve traffic flow as vehicles won’t have to overtake cyclists. The project will provide a key nonmotorised user (NMU) route in the area and promote active travel. The majority of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £50,000 for the project.
Re-Surfacing of Car Park and Provision of Bike Rack (St Mary Oatlands Church)
The project proposes to resurface the existing car park using eco-friendly methods, improving the layout, and subsequent flow of traffic, and to install a bike rack to encourage more usage of sustainable travel to the facility. The facility and car park are used by a variety of users, including community groups and nearby schools, so the project will improve usage and safety. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £30,000 for the project.
Baker Street Junction Improvements for Pedestrians (Surrey County Council)
The proposed scheme is to improve the crossing facilities for pedestrians at the two junctions of Baker Street with the A317 (eastern end – Monument Hill and western end – High Street). The improved alignment of the routes will improve safety and the ease of usage for pedestrians, which will encourage more residents in the area to choose active travel means. Over half of the funding has been secured and £25,000 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.
Brooklands Community Park – Car Park Extension (Elmbridge Borough Council)
The proposed project is to extend the car parking provision by 50 spaces, as well as improving the flow of the current car park to eliminate the current requirement for users to reverse out, which will improve the safety of all users of the park. £32,500 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.
Scout HQ Repair & Camping Equipment Store (1st Weybridge (Brooklands Own) Scout Group)
The project proposes to install a new externally accessed storage area and improve the drainage to reduce the flooding in the building’s hall facility. The new storage area would enable the outside space and the hall to be used separately by different groups at the same to increase the capacity for the community to use the space as well. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £22,500 for the project.
Cricket green improvement works (Weybridge Cricket Club)
The proposed project seeks to upgrade the pitch and area surface through groundworks and the installation of an irrigation sprinkler system, which will reduce the flooding risk to parts of the site and enable more usage of the pitch and area through the year. A portion of the funding has been secured, and the CIL application is for the remaining £84,500 for the project.
Weybridge Men’s Shed (Weybridge Men’s Shed
The project is project is to fit out the newly built shed with resources and utility connections to provide a space for those dealing with social exclusion, loneliness or depression to come for wellbeing support and community inclusion in the area. £20,756 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.
Walton & Hersham Arena Pitch Improvements: Floodlighting (Walton & Hersham Youth Football Club)
The project is for portable floodlights and storage which will increase the time that users can play on the pitches throughout the year by the various teams and groups, providing an increase in the usage of the pitches and decreased pressure on other lit pitches in the surrounding area. £8,690.22 in CIL funding is being requested for the project.
Hydrotherapy Pool Improvements (Walton Leigh School
The project proposes to upgrade the changing and shower facilities for the pool to enable better wheelchair access and increased usage by the students and community members using the specialist facility. A portion of the funding has been secured, a funding application is awaiting confirmation, and the CIL application is for £25,000 for the project.
The CIL bidding and scrutiny process
All bids for funding need to meet criteria set by the council. These are designed to evaluate the suitability and value of the projects in the context of CIL funding. Bids are score against the criteria and ranked accordingly. The criteria used are:
- The extent to which the project mitigates the impact of development within the Borough
- The level of benefits to residents, including evidence of community support
- The level of match funding attached to the project
- Value for money of the scheme and added value that CIL could deliver, and
In a year when there was a significant gap between that amount of funding sought versus the amount available, the scoring system had a significant impact. This meant that the highest scoring bids were more likely to receive funding. Additionally, one of the allocation rules is that the CIL funds are available only for a year and that there should be a high probability that the total cost of the project will be raised by the bidder, so that the project is carried out within a year. (See above, deliverability within the year is one of the criteria for bids).
Funds are retrospectively paid to projects at project completion and project spending is scrutinised by council officers to check that the funds given were spent in accordance with the bid specifications.
Where do the funds come from?
Elmbridge charges developers a tax for new development known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
National government said this new tax was to be raised for the purposes of providing new or improved infrastructure in Elmbridge. The new tax began in April 2013 and has raised a considerable amount in the eight years since its introduction.
The money raised is split so that Elmbridge retains 75% for strategic infrastructure projects and 25% is given to towns. This is allocated to each town in proportion the the tax raised in each town, which reflects the amount of development there has been.