The fee to be paid to a local authority when a planning application is made is due to go up shortly.
The government announced some months back its intention to raise planning application fees in England. Initially the rise was expected back in July but it was delayed by the general election.
The government have now published the required draft regulations, which must be laid before Parliament before the change can be introduced. The change will affect the fees for all types of application, not just those for applications for planning permission. They will affect all types of development which are currently subject to a planning application fee.
The precise date for the change has yet to be announced. It may happen before the end of the year.
The increase is intended to help local authorities invest in their local planning service, to improve performance. The government is expected to require that local authorities ‘ring fence’ the funding to ensure it does go to local planning departments and is not siphoned off for use by other services.
Most authorities are expected to use the money to increase staffing levels. The increase could be enough to fund up to five new staff for each authority across England. Authorities can use the funding how they see fit and, for example, some money could be used to improve IT systems, so teams can work more efficiently. That would be just as well, because there are about 300 local authorities in England and if they wanted just two more staff each that would be a lot of people to find. Most planning work is undertaken by professionally qualified town planners, and there are not 600 of those sitting around kicking their heels waiting for a chance to work in local government. Where the extra staff will come from is therefore far from clear.
So get ready to soon pay more for your planning applications, but you may have to wait a while longer before you see services improve.