Planning fees cover only 66% of processing costs, according to latest research  

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Scotland has said additional planning fees alone will not increase capacity in local planning authorities, especially if the new funds are not explicitly allocated for planning.

From February until the end of May, the Scottish government introduced the Investing in Planning consultation to explore potential solutions to the country’s problems in the planning system. 

It proposed a number of measures such as establishing an annual inflationary increase in planning fees and enhancing the powers of authorities to set discretionary fees.  


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Scotland’s councils need more staff to deal with the volume of planning applications, the report added

However, the RTPI, Scotland’s professional planning body with more than 2,000 members, expressed regret that the consultation did not include plan making or enforcement.

The latest resourcing research from the membership organisation found that planning fees in Scotland currently cover just 66% of the processing costs of applications.

Caroline Brown, the director of RTPI Scotland, said the consultation’s response to Scotland’s “chronic underfunding of its planning services” relies “too heavily” on its move to introduce rises in planning fees.

She added: “Some members noted that, historically, fee increases have failed to bring about meaningful change, and increasing fees without ringfencing may lead to the same result.”

The RTPI announced last year that planning expenditure in Scotland has fallen by 28.6% since 2010-2011, making it the lowest funded local authority department on a national scale.

The workforce is also suffering, with 1,205 staff members in local authorities, its most reduced level in five years.

“If we are to build the towns, houses, and infrastructure Scotland’s communities need, we will need to work quickly to address this issue,” Brown warned.