61% of MPs agreed that fees should increase, whilst 47% say they should increase but with stronger guarantees on planning performance. The feeling was supported by the country’s two main political parties. Labour MPs voted in favour by 65% and the Conservative’s by 61%.
In a survey conducted by the BPF and GL Hearn in 2015, 55% of local planning authorities cited under resourcing as a major challenge, whilst 65% of applicants said they would be happy to pay extra to reduced waiting times.
The government’s solution to date was a proposal to allow local authorities to outsource the processing of planning applications and to reward high performing authorities by allowing them to increase fees.
The BPF believes that further actions are needed to help plug the skills gap.
“The public and private sectors have both been very clear about the need for more resourcing in local authority planning departments, and we now know that there is political understanding of this issue as well,” said Melanie Leech, BPF chief executive, to propertywire.com.
“We are supportive of the small steps that government is taking to address this, but are not holding out hope for any great impact. Some local authority planning departments are simply short staffed, putting those who remain under enormous strain,” she explained.
“Outsourcing the processing of planning applications is likely to relieve this burden to an extent, but it is not going to solve the chronic shortage of skills and resource that is the true problem,” she added.
Property Developer Richard Carr supports the view that local planning authorities are under resourced, however doesn’t support the views of the MPs in favour of increasing planning fees.
Richard believes that developers are already paying enough to the system in development taxes that the burden should be on the government to deliver extra funding to LPAs to improve their productivity.