Published: Thursday, 21st April 2016
The majority of MPs believe that fees for planning applications should increase, according to the results of a poll just published.
The ComRes poll, commissioned by the British Property Federation (BPF), showed that three in five (61 per cent) MPs broadly agree that fees should increase, with around half (47 per cent) saying that they should increase with stronger guarantees on planning performance. The results reveal cross-party support for an increase in fees, with two thirds of Labour (65 per cent) and three in five Conservative (61 per cent) MPs supporting the idea.
The results show that parliamentarians recognise that there is a problem, as do the property industry and local authorities.
The BPF and GL Hearn’s 2015 Annual Planning Survey revealed that 55 per cent of local planning authorities perceived under-resourcing to be a significant challenge, and that approximately two thirds (65 per cent) of applicants are happy to pay more to shorten waiting times.
The government has moved to address this problem, proposing to allow local authorities to outsource the processing of planning applications and to reward well-performing local authorities by allowing them to increase planning fees by an inflationary increase. However the BPF has warned that more is required.
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “The public and private sectors have both been very clear about the need for more resourcing in local authority planning departments, and we now know that there is political understanding of this issue as well.
“We are supportive of the small steps that government is taking to address this, but are not holding out hope for any great impact. Some local authority planning departments are simply short staffed, putting those who remain under enormous strain. Outsourcing the processing of planning applications is likely to relieve this burden to an extent, but it is not going to solve the chronic shortage of skills and resource that is the true problem.”