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Increase in application fees supported but effect will be dissipated

Date: 4/5/2017

Planning magazine reports that council planning chiefs have voiced concern that extra income derived from promised rises in planning application fees will be dissipated by new administrative burdens and loss of income from other sources. Their reservations are raised in consultation responses to this February's Housing White Paper, on which the official deadline for responses expired on Tuesday. 

The white paper said that councils would be able to increase fees by 20 per cent if they commit to invest the additional income in their planning department, with a further 20 per cent rise dependent on homes delivery. 

In its white paper response, the Planning Officers Society (POS) welcomed the 20 per cent increase. 

But it said council planners have "genuine concern" that much of the additional income will be used to fund new nationally prescribed requirements, such as the duty to compile brownfield land registers under the Housing and Planning Act 2017. 

Increased fee receipts might also need to be used to cover funding gaps if the take-up of pre-application advice, which is often charged for, and planning performance agreements drops, the POS warned. 

The POS response also highlighted the "skills challenge" facing council planning teams. "There have been very low numbers of planners joining the profession in recent years and this is reflected in the acute shortage of senior and principal planners. Government should support recruitment into the planning profession and we would be happy to help with this," it said.

Other responses from POS include:

  • A method of capturing land value is "missing" from the white paper and should be covered in the Autumn Budget.
  • The emphasis in the white paper on a more formal approach to strategic planning through joint strategic local plans is strongly supported.
  • Planning authorities should not be penalised for slow build-out rates under the housing delivery test, as this is "not in their gift".
  • Government should allow density around transport hubs and town centres to be planned for and decided locally.
  • The white paper "lacks a strategic approach" towards green belt.

Read the Society response in brief or in full

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