Plans to increase planning fees by 35 per cent will not be enough to prevent a significant national shortfall or solve capacity issues in the sector.
Plans to increase planning fees by 35 per cent will not be enough to prevent a significant national shortfall or solve capacity issues in the sector, the Local Government Association warns today.
The Government’s technical consultation on increasing planning fees to reduce the funding shortfall for the planning application service proposes a 35 per cent increase in fees for major applications and 25 per cent for all other applications.
LGA modelling has shown that in order to ensure all councils in deficit are able to balance the books, fees would need to be increased by 57 per cent, far higher than the proposed 35 per cent, highlighting the need for councils to have the flexibility to set fees at a local level to cover their individual costs.
Planning fees currently do not cover the true cost of processing planning applications, with 305 out of 343 local authority planning departments operating in a deficit totalling £245.4 million in 2020/21.
There is also a significant challenge in resourcing local planning authority teams, with councils across England struggling to recruit and retain planners and more than a quarter of authorities seeing teams shrink since last year.
The LGA said that increasing the planning fees by the proposed amount will not automatically decrease the number of vacancies, nor will it solve historic issues of retention.
Cllr Linda Taylor, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said:
“We recognise there are some resource concerns in council planning teams and while we are pleased the Government is looking to increase fees, we are concerned that the proposed uplift in planning fees fails to future-proof the sector and ensure planning departments can continue to enable the delivery of housing targets, including the affordable homes and infrastructure that the country needs.
“Councils must have the flexibility to set planning fees at a local level to cover their costs relating to planning, which could include the employment of qualified planners. This would put councils in a stronger position to address the issue of resourcing in the planning sector.”
Notes to editor
The LGA’s Annual Conference takes place in Bournemouth from 4-6 July 2023 and the current programme is now live. For media accreditation please contact the LGA’s media team on 0207 664 3333 or email [email protected]