On 3 August 2012, DCLG published the results of a consultation it ran from November 2010 to January 2011 on the reform of planning application fees. The main outcome is that fees for chargeable planning applications are to go up by 15 per cent.
The fee rise is a substitute for the more controversial proposal of the decentralisation of planning application fees, enabling local authorities to recover their actual costs and in turn benefit applicants by ensuring that LPAs have the resources to provide an effective and timely service.
After the consultation, the Government’s conclusion on decentralisation is that it is “a complex proposal which would need further working through”, and that the Government will continue to look into its full implications.
Over the last two years, the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) in collaboration with CIPFA has done considerable work in creating a cost recovery fee model that local authorities would use to set their own fees. While concerns remain about the practicalities of establishing fee levels, and whether developers would benefit from an improved service or only see an increase in cost, only time will tell whether decentralisation of planning fees will ever materialise.
The Government will also consider whether when setting their own fees, LPAs should be allowed to set higher fees for retrospective applications and whether chargeable applications should include those for a listed building consent. The Government will also look at charging for the resubmission of withdrawn applications, but this is to remain free of charge for now.