Richard Carr recently spoke about Ministers’ plans to increase planning fees for well performing councils, however experts have thrown doubts upon the claims that developers and planners will benefit from better resourced planning authorities.
The government initially outlined the increases as being a positive for planners who would see the application process quickened thanks to the extra resources available to local planning authorities. However, experts have revealed to planningresource.co.uk that the expectation on councils to reduce the ‘cross subsidy’ planning authorities currently receive from tax payers could mean only small increases in budget.
A Department for Communities and Local Government consultation set out a number of ways in which it proposed the increases could be introduced. Ministers wanted the increases to go to authorities that had performed well over the past few years and also added that another approach could be to limit increases to “those authorities that are in the top 75 per cent of performance for both the speed and quality of their decisions.”
By making the planning process a competition for local authorities, Richard Crawley of the Planning Advisory Service believes that matters may become overly goal focused. He believes that limiting the increased fees to just 75% would be a “blunt tool” and recommends open it up to all the local planning authorities.
This would prevent councils focussing purely on meeting goals rather than more important task such as meeting the needs of the customer.
Mike Kiely, chair of the board of the Planning Officers Society, also shared his concerns: “A good service should be defined using a range of measures, and without creating a whole industry, these should include the eight to 13-week performance, but also the success rate at appeal, which is a proxy to quality of decision making, and the amount of applications that are dealt with under delegated powers, which is a proxy for an efficient system.”
As a property developer, Richard Carr is keen to see local planning authorities have increased resources to assist planners and developers. However, he believes if developers and planners are expected to fund the resource then they should be the beneficiaries, rather than it being to cover shortfalls.
Richard is also of the opinion that the government should be doing more to increase resource and the fact they aren’t is sheer lunacy!