Government proposals to allow councils to set planning fees

Local councils could be able to decide their own planning fees to under proposals put out for consultation by the government yesterday.

The proposal would enable councils to increase fees and cover the costs of processing planning applications.

The Department for Communities and Local Government cites research by Arup done in February 2009 which found that fees were around 10% below costs. The average cost of an application was £619 while the fee was £563.

Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said: “Having a system where Whitehall dictates to local councils what planning fees they can charge is very unfair for local taxpayers around the country who are left paying for the shortfall where fees don’t cover costs.”

He said: “Letting councils set their own fees is a much fairer system for both the applicant and the local taxpayer and will ensure there is flexibility in the system to recover the actual costs of applications.”

The Communities department said that councils would not be allowed to make a profit on fees. It said that councils’ resources vary, fees might rise in some areas but fall in others.

The statement said: “National fees fail to take into account that local authorities have different resources and so incur different costs. Councils setting their own charges will mean fees in some areas may increase but similarly in other areas fees will fall to cover actual costs.”



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