A community-led process to develop a grant strategy for the neighbourhood portion of CIL funding

CAG worked with local communities in Exeter to develop a strategy to maximise the benefits of the neighbourhood portion of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.  The fruits of that work are now being rolled out, applications having been received for round one of the Grass Roots Grants programme.

We were engaged by Exeter Community Forum to develop a strategy identifying priorities for the neighbourhood portion of the funding which comes from new development.  We were very pleased to work with the Forum, who were keen that the Community Strategy should promote community-led development across the city.

Exeter City Council had taken a refreshingly community-centred approach in allocating the neighbourhood portion of CIL funding, which amounted to 15% of the total levy received from developers.  The Council agreed to adopt “a bottom up approach with positive engagement” and asked the Exeter Community Forum to lead the process of identifying priorities for funding and criteria for allocation.

The strategy was developed through six lively and engaged consultation events across the city in November and December 2015.  The discussions reflected the hot issues in each community, including the impacts of current and new housing development. A particularly challenging issue was how to balance the needs of existing communities with providing for the effects of new development. Summaries of all the discussions can be found on the Forum’s website.

The strategy, which can be viewed here identifies  priorities for grant funding.  The priorities will be addressed through a three year Action Plan, supporting community planning, organising and collaboration, and delivering community initiatives.

As well as providing direct grants, the Strategy also seeks to support projects by helping them crowd-fund additional contributions.  This helps the CIL money to go further, is a simple way of demonstrating community support for an initiative,  and provides a simple mechanism for paying grants, using the crowdfunding website.  The strategy proposes a range of other ways of increasing the amount of funding available, and sustaining it over the long term.

To find out more about this project, or for more information on the services we offer regarding community engagement or grant programmes, contact Gerard Couper on 07866 361111,or email gc@cagconsult.co.uk.