Developers have told Kate Barker that a recent hike in planning fees has not resulted in council planning departments providing a better service.

In April last year, the ODPM removed the cap on the amount that councils could charge for processing applications. The expectation was that this would allow planning departments to increase resources and process applications faster.

However, in a submission to Barker's review of the planning system, the Home Builder's Federation and the British Property Federation said performance had not improved.

The HBF said: "Housebuilders have accepted increases in planning fees, but have been disappointed that these have not yet led to any significant improvement in the efficiency of development control performance."

The BPF said: "Nearly one year on, BPF members have not seen a marked improvement to suggest that the increase in revenue has made a significant impact in the level of service provided."

The BPF said local councils had developed an "unhealthy reliance'" on ODPM planning delivery grants.

Last week, planning minister Yvette Cooper announced that the ODPM would be reviewing these grants later this year, after a string of complaints by developers.

Nearly one year on, BPF members have not seen a marked improvement

BPF submission

They claim councils have been refusing schemes to show that they are dealing with applications speedily, which is a key condition for accessing the grants.

Both groups back the payment of large one-off fees to authorities as part of "planning delivery agreements". These are voluntary arrangements in which the council provides a timetable for the application, explains what is expected of the developer, and sets out what the developer can expect from it.

The HBF's submission also complains about recent reforms of the planning system. It says: "The new system, involving multiple stages, documents and inquiries, is considerably more complex than the old system and is likely to make greater demands on local authority resources."

The BPF says the recent reforms mean councils are being required to produce too much paperwork.

"There needs to be a balance between these processes so that the growth and stability of the English economy is not unnecessarily stalled by what, in the context of major schemes could be considered to be relatively minor issues."

But the HBF warns Barker against a radical reform of the system. It says that such changes would be destabilising and that the system, which was introduced in the 2004 Planning Act, should be given time to bed in.