Pressure grows on government to implement planning reforms

Commercial and Residential Development Specialist Richard Carr expects the government to allow councils to set their own planning fees in this year’s Autumn Statement following increased pressure from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Local knowledge

Richard Carr's planning permission image

Richard Carr says the government needs to do more to help building firms

Richard Carr is of the opinion that passing control of planning fees to councils instead of having nationally-set planning fees will benefit developers.

He believes developers will benefit from relationships with local planning officers and knowledge of the area to reach fairer and more accurate fees.

The LGA has urged Chancellor George Osborne to remove the cap introduced by the government in 2012 when he informs the country of his spending review in the Autumn Statement later this month.

Many expect to see the cap removed with speculation mounting that the Treasury, keen to see house building accelerate in the UK, is sympathetic towards developers.

Cost of planning applications increasing

According to the LGA there is a shortfall of about a third in the actual costs covered by the existing nationally-set planning fees. The shortfall is estimated to have costs councils close to £500,000 in the past three years, whilst the cost of planning application has risen annually by around £150,000.

LGA housing spokesman Peter Box, said: “It is unacceptable for communities to keep being forced to spend hundreds of millions each year to cover a third of the cost of all planning applications.

“Government should recognise the huge pressure this is placing on already stretched planning departments that are crucial to building the homes and roads that local communities need but which have seen 46 per cent reductions in funding over the past five years.”

How can developers help?

The LGA also suggested that two thirds of private sector respondents to a survey produced by the developers’ trade body the British Property Federation had showed a readiness to pay higher planning fees to help planning departments provide a better service.

However, Richard Carr believes that planning fees are already high enough and that resource should be provide to local planning authorities by the government; especially if they are committed to help the country start building again.