Is the RPTI fair in asking for a rise in planning application fees?

Development Specialist Richard Carr believes Richard Blyth’s recommendations that a national rise in planning application fees is introduced is unfair on developers, who already have to pay numerous taxes on developments.

More restrictions

Richard does believe that Local Planning Authorities need more resources, however asking developers to pay more in planning application fees will negatively affective the industry and slow down the country’s current development growth. In the long term this will have a big effective on the economy, which has only recently started showing signs of a recovery.

Aswell as an increase in planning fees, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has written to the Chancellor arguing against further cuts to local authority funding. Local authority planning and development services have experienced the largest cuts of any local government area since 2010.

RTPI president Janet Askew explained the letter sent by Blyth to George Osborne: “We have written to the Chancellor to impress upon him that in order for us to meet our national objectives increasing capacity in local authority planning teams is an urgent priority and cannot be avoided if the government expects to deliver on its ambitious programme.

“In his July budget, we are also calling for a national rise in planning fees in line with the rate of inflation as a short-term measure. There is further scope, we believe, for local authorities and developers to work together, for example through planning performance and pre-application agreements, to increase resourcing in specific areas.”

Economic growth

The RTPI argue that local authority is essential to facilitate economic growth and deliver housing. Below are the requests outlined to George Osborne:

  • In the interim, a national rise in planning application fees in line with the rate of inflation would be a sensible short term measure.
  • We strongly warn against future cuts to Local Authority spending due to the knock on effect this will have for the delivery of new homes and permanent employment.
  • Opinions from within the profession as to whether planning fees should be set locally to more accurately fully cover the cost of service is divided, but RTPI would see no harm in this providing that authorities have adequate capacity to set them and could give assurances to applicants that they will received a proportional service (in terms of fair decision making).
  • We see scope for the further formalising of the cost of planning services to be funded by applicants through measures like pre application charging and planning performance agreements, although this should come with a guarantee of good service from the Local Authority.
  • Planning has already contributed its fair share to reducing the overall deficit. It is poised to contribute in the future by supporting additional tax generating growth, but only if sufficient investment in services are made.

Richard Carr believes that the RTPI are wrong. Developers are being taxed enough with CIL and S106 (Lowland Heath) and S106 (Social Housing) what needs to happen is LPAs should be made to return fees for planning which get upheld at appeal.