BPF: More than half of MPs support planning fees increase

Results of a poll commissioned by the British Property Federation show that 61% of MPs believe that planning fees should be increased, although 47% stress the rise should be linked to stronger guarantees on planning performance.

The ComRes poll reveals cross-party support for an increase in fees, with 65% of Labour and 61% of Conservative MPs supporting the idea.

The BPF and GL Hearn’s 2015 Annual Planning Survey showed that 55% of local planning authorities perceived under-resourcing to be a significant challenge, and that approximately 65% of applicants would be happy to pay more to shorten waiting times.

The Government has proposed to allow local authorities to outsource the processing of planning applications and is consulting on plans to reward well-performing local authorities by allowing them to increase planning fees by an inflationary increase.

A Government consultation on the technical planning changes set out in the Housing & Planning Bill closes today. The BPF said that it welcomes the Government’s recognition of the fact that local authorities “are struggling to provide the service required by applicants”, but cautions that the measures suggested will not be enough to plug the skills gap.

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.”

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