March 17, 2023

Mixed reaction over proposed planning fees increases

The consultation on proposals to increase planning fees and to improve capacity, capability and performance within local planning authorities ends, on 25 April.

The proposals by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would increase fees for major planning applications by 35 per cent, and for other applications by 25 per cent, with the amounts adjusted annually in line with inflation.

Measures under consideration include:

· Additional fees for bespoke or ‘fast track’ services

· Making an annual inflation-related adjustment to planning fees

· Ring-fencing additional fees income

· Doubling fees for retrospective applications

· Removing the ‘free-go’ for repeat applications

· Reducing the Planning Guarantee from 26 weeks to 16 weeks for non-major applications

· Improving the quality of the local authority planning service by monitoring more performance measures.

But Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the National Federation of Builders (NFB), told trade publication Construction News that they really don’t think it’s the time to impose what he said was a 13th regulatory cost on the sector in a two-year period.

The NFB predominantly represents small and medium enterprise (SME) homebuilders and regional contractors.

Mr Wojtulewicz said the proposal to shorten the guarantee period should be extended to cover major sites with up to 50 homes, because SMEs are being hammered the most.

He added: “If the Government isn’t willing to tackle the really complicated elements in the broken planning process, then really it’s just another unfair tax.”

In contrast, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) planning director Sam Stafford said: “The planning profession, and indeed the wider development industry, has been united for some time in calling for more resources for local planning authorities in order to help build capacity and capability and so this consultation is very much welcomed.”

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