Planning and Housing

01.09.17

Councils call for DCLG to lift planning fees freeze

Local government leaders have ramped up the pressure on the government to urgently bring forward its Housing White Paper commitment to allow councils to increase planning fees.

The LGA has also called for a fair and transparent scheme of local fee setting, to allow councils to recover actual costs.

Nationally-set planning fees were last increased in 2012, and the LGA claims that since then local communities have footed the bill for as much as a third of all planning applications.

Currently, councils are prevented from recovering the full cost of processing the 500,000 planning applications they receive each year. And analysis by the LGA suggests the bill for local taxpayers to cover the cost of planning applications is growing at a rate of around £200m a year and will reach £1bn by 2022.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman, said: “Councils are working flat-out to approve almost nine in 10 planning applications, with the majority processed quickly. 

“But the shortfall in the amount of fees councils can charge and the cost of processing applications is heaping further pressure on the stretched planning departments which are so crucial to building the homes and roads that local communities need.

“Councils need to be able to recover the actual cost of applications and end such a needless waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Locally-set fees would also allow councils to prevent increased costs being passed on to residents, while developers could contribute more to maintain high-quality planning decisions and improve the ability of councils to speed up the planning process, claimed Cllr Tett.

John Fuller, chairman of the District Councils’ Network, added that his organisation has long called for locally set planning fees to increase the capacity of planning departments.

“As this analysis reveals the current level of nationally set fees are heaping financial pressure on local authorities and putting councils’ ability to deliver housing growth in a timely manner at risk,” he said.

But a DCLG spokesperson assured the government is committed to giving local authorities the tools they need to drive new housing and build the right homes in the right places.

“All councils have now accepted the 20% planning fee increase announced in the Housing White Paper, and we are introducing regulations this autumn,” they added.

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