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PR 4 - Local residents face new £120 charge for appealing planning decisions

24 January 2008

Local residents face having to stump up a whopping £120 if they want to appeal against a decision by their council not to grant planning permission for many minor schemes to improve their homes such as loft conversions, house extensions, fencing, garaging and replacement windows, under new laws set to be introduced by the government.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the professional body for planners, is launching a campaign this week to get the measure scrapped and is calling on residents to contact their MPs and councillors to voice their opposition. Appeals are presently heard by the independent Planning Inspectorate, and are free.

The laws, contained in little noticed sections of the Planning Bill, are currently going through the House of Commons.

Robert Upton, Secretary-General of the RTPI said:

\"This would be a stealth tax which hundreds of ordinary people will have to pay if they disagree with the council and want to appeal against a decision. It is also totally wrong as a matter of principle that councils should be hearing appeals against their own decisions.\"

Ministers want to remove the existing right of appeal to an independent and impartial body, known as the Planning Inspectorate, and replace it with a new system which would see councillors, possibly from other authorities, sitting in judgment over local residents' appeals against refusals of planning applications.

Councillor Mike Roberts, Chair of Politicians in Planning Association (PIPA), which represents councillors with an interest and expertise in planning issues, said:

\"It is important that planning decisions are accountable to local communities through local government. However, where something 'goes wrong', you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. This process ensures that often deeply felt concerns are reconsidered by an independent, impartial and expert body, not by the council which made the original decision\".

Businesses also face having to pay the hefty charge for minor appeals against decisions involving shop fronts and small changes to land use.

For further information about the campaign go to: www.rtpi.org.uk
Ends

For other information please contact:

Tino Hernandez, RTPI Public Affairs Manager: 0207 929 9486, 07724084471

Editors Notes:

1. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is the professional body for Britain's planners, leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work. As well as promoting spatial planning, RTPI develops and shapes policy affecting the built environment, works to raise professional standards and supports members through continuous education, training and development. For further general information, visit the RTPI website at: www.rtpi.org.uk
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