Chancellor George Osborne is due to reveal his spending review on 25 November and it’s expected to contain £20 billion in government funding cuts. In a submission ahead of the spending review, local authorities have asked ministers to allow them to set their own planning fees, which are currently set centrally by the Department for Communities and Local Government. The request is contained in a spending review plan submitted by the Local Government Association (LGA), which gives recommendations from local authorities.
The council body suggested that by introducing planning fees to be set locally, it would “ensure effective, responsive and fully funded council planning services, removing the burden from taxpayers who currently subsidise 30 per cent of total costs”.
LGA chairman Gary Porter said, “If our public services are to survive the next five years, councils need fairer funding and the freedom to pay for them.”
The current variations in fees for pre-application advice from local planning departments suggests that if this goes ahead, planning charges may also vary widely and could even increase in some areas.
The councils’ organisation has also called for assurance that local areas can use the local growth fund to support local housing and infrastructure investment strategies.
In addition, the Local Government Association have also said that they wish to remove the current national exemptions to section 106 contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fees which helps to deliver infrastructure to support the developing areas. In its place a more robust and transparent local viability assessment process will be put in.
What do we think? We are very concerned about the impact on those seeking planning permission from the proposed change. If it goes ahead we fear that some local authorities almost certainly will increase planning fees and that any increases may not be uniform across the country. And without the government setting a threshold of how much they can charge then there could be significant increases in fees charged.