The squeeze on local government finances is set to get still more intense in the coming five years, or so says Planning magazine.
Responding, David Evans, the POS President, said "Councils need well-resourced planning departments to progress their local plans and to achieve the housebuilding figures that the government wants us to deliver. This is impossible in the current funding regime."
Alongside the cuts, planning workloads are being further stretched by the increasing amount of work on applications for which a fee cannot be charged", commented Mike Kiely, POS Chair. He directed the Planning reporter to the increasing number f prior approval applications for permitted development rights, which he said need almost as much work by a planning officer as a standard application but do not attract a fee.
Evans pointed out that smaller councils have cut staff and rellied more on consultants or shared officers with neighbouring authorities.
"POS would like to see development management sections in council teams soley funded by application fees," Evans said. He pointed to building control departments, which can set fees to make them self-funding.
Planning application fees were last raised in 2012 but do not cover costs, particularly for householder applications, Kiely said. He suggested the problem is worst at smaller councils. "They can't afford the specialist staff needed to progress some applications, which can cause delays," he said. "The modest increases in application fees necessary to cover 100 per cent of planning department costs would not make a great difference to most schemes' economics."
David Evans Mike Kiely