Council planning departments will miss out on £70m if the Government does not bring forward measures to increase planning fees, council chiefs say.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned Whitehall that an ‘immediate’ increase in resource for planning departments is crucial to ensuring applications are processed as ‘efficiently and effectively’ as possible.
The bill for local taxpayers to cover the cost of planning applications is around £200m a year and, according to an LGA analysis, this is likely to increase to £1bn by 2022.
Local authorities have been calling on the Government to allow them to cover the costs of processing planning applications by setting fees locally.
Since last July, councils have been expecting to be allowed to raise fees by 20%. They have also been waiting for the results of a Government consultation into raising them by a further 20%.
However, in the Autumn Budget, the chancellor pledged no new money for planning departments.
The LGA says it is ‘absolutely crucial’ this month’s Local Government Finance Settlement includes the ability for them to make this first rise immediately.
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Housing spokesman, said that councils approve nine out of 10 applications. However, he warned they needed more money in order to process applications faster.
‘The simple fact is that if the Government is serious about speeding up the delivery of new homes, they must provide more resources for our planning departments,’ Cllr Tett said.
‘The Government has promised to increase planning fees, as a first step to helping speed up development, and we urge them to bring forward this increase as soon as possible - the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement would be an ideal opportunity.’
‘Our planners both protect local environments and ensure appropriate and affordable homes are delivered for our communities,’ he continued.
‘That’s why ultimately, council planners should be able to set fees that reflect the needs of their local area.
‘As a minimum first step, however, the Government needs to deliver those fee increases that they have already committed to.
‘By April next year, if the fees are not forthcoming, planners will have missed out on £70m, which is money that would help us approve applications, safeguard our environments, and deliver homes and communities to be proud of.’