Published: Friday, 19th June 2015
The Royal Town Planning Institute has written to the Chancellor arguing against any further cuts in local authority funding and urging an increase in planning fees.
The letter, sent in advance of Osborne’s promised July budget, highlighted that local authority planning and development services have experienced the largest cuts of any local government service area since 2010.
According to the Local Government Association, by 2015/16 core funding for local government will have been reduced by 40 per cent and further reductions are anticipated.
RTPI president Janet Askew said: “We have written to the Chancellor to impress upon him that in order for us to meet our national objectives increasing capacity in local authority planning teams is an urgent priority and cannot be avoided if the government expects to deliver on its ambitious programme.
“In his July budget, we are also calling for a national rise in planning fees in line with the rate of inflation as a short-term measure. There is further scope, we believe, for local authorities and developers to work together, for example through planning performance and pre-application agreements, to increase resourcing in specific areas.”
The letter acknowledged that planners are divided over whether planning fees should be set locally. However, the institute says it sees no harm in such a move “providing that authorities have adequate capacity to set them and could give assurances to applicants that they will receive a proportional service (in terms of fair decision making)”.
The RTPI said it saw scope for further formalising the cost of planning services to be funded by applicants through measures like pre-application charging and planning performance agreements.