The Government proposal to increase planning fees by 15% is welcome but the crucial issue is whether Councils will ensure that planning departments are adequately resourced, said the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the organisation which represents planners in the UK.
As the Institute stressed in its submission to the 2011 Budget, there is increasing pressure on planning authorities in addition to the need to process planning applications: local plans need updating, neighbourhood planning needs supporting, development management needs resourcing, and there are substantial changes to the planning system that need implementing.
Swift and accurate planning decisions are a crucial element in delivering much-needed growth and the increase in fees by the Government is designed to support this function.
Colin Haylock, President of the RTPI, said: \"The proposal to increase fees is welcome, but councils need to make sure that the additional money ensures planning departments are adequately resourced. Swift and accurate planning decisions are a crucial element in delivering much-needed growth and the increase in fees by the Government is designed to support this function. Whilst local government faces difficult choices, the Government's clear intention is that council planning departments should be suitably resourced. Under resourced planning departments are a brake on growth.\"
In November 2010, the Government launched a consultation on plans to replace the current centralised system with a decentralised system. The ministerial statement did not address whether the Government intends in the longer term to decentralise fees. The RTPI's primary consideration is that the planning system is resourced adequately, not how this is achieved. Nevertheless, the Institute will be pressing Government for greater clarity on its longer term intentions on fee setting.