Application fees likely to rise for first time in four years

Property developers and building firms could be expected to pay more in planning fees for the first time in England since 2012, following an announcement from the government, writes Property Specialist Richard Carr.

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Richard Carr Planning Permission s106

Do application fees need to rise?

The increase wouldn’t be nationwide, but only available for the well performing councils who could put the fees up in line with inflation.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark stated that the government would consult on the plans and he told MPs that the flexibility would be granted to councils: “providing that the revenue reduces the cross-subsidy that the planning function currently gets from council tax payers”.

Back in 2012, planning fees were increased by 15% when Clark was acting as the minister and this latest announcement is the second time in recent weeks that the government has indicated its intent to bolster the resourcing of local planning authorities.

Increasing fees

Ministers were recently discussing amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill that would give local planning authorities – and private providers – the ability to increase the cost of fees to test opening up the process of applications to competition.

If implemented, providers would be permitted to charge applicants “premium” rates for fast-tracking privileges.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the lobby group the British Property Federation, welcomed this week’s announcement, but added: “Allowing well-performing authorities to make inflationary increases to their fees … is unlikely to make a huge amount of difference in practice.”

Neil Clarke, chair of the District Councils Network, welcomed the “acknowledgement that planning fees need to be addressed”. But he added: “Let’s hope the forthcoming consultation is realistic about the real-terms gap that has emerged over the years.”