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Consultation on planning fees - a chance to better resource the planning system

Government has announced a consultation on proposals to increase planning fees by 35% for major applications and 25% for all other applications. The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) recognises increases to planning fees as a chance to alleviate the pressure placed on England’s planning services.

In September 2022, the RTPI reported that Local Authority spending on planning has fallen by 43% since 2009/10, now representing just 0.45% of local government budgets. With a stripped-back planning system, less than half of applications were decided within statutory time limits in 2021.

The RTPI will begin consultation with members across England, scrutinising the details of the planning fees and permitted development rights proposals before issuing a response.

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI said: “The RTPI has been calling for increased resourcing to planning services consistently because planners cannot do more for less in perpetuity. We believe it is necessary to raise fees in line with inflation and ringfence their use.

“Former Housing Minister Lucy Frazer MP wrote to me in January, highlighting the shortfall between the income from planning fees and the cost of processing planning applications. We have worked hard to maintain this dialogue with Rachel Maclean MP, and believe that proposals set out by Government to raise fees while giving urgent attention to inflation are reflective of this.

“We've heard time and again that developers see the lack of planning resources as the biggest barrier to building new homes, and are willing to pay more for the services they receive.

“However, while increased fees is an important first step, we do not see them as a silver bullet to meeting the capacity requirements. We’re pleased to see the government's recognition that money alone is not enough and support its focus on issues of capacity, resourcing, and specialist skills alongside planning fees.

“It is promising to see that government understands that measuring good planning performance by speed is unsuitable and unstable. We must not lose sight of outcomes. We will work hard to help define positive performance that benefits the economy, environment, and communities.”

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