Proposed planning fee increases could help local planning services address capacity, recruitment, and performance challenges, which the RTPI says threaten the Government’s goals to boost home ownership and level up.
However, these increases may not come soon enough for councils with scheduled staffing cuts, according to Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) evidence released today.
Heads of planning services within the RTPI’s consultation response believe the fee increase coming in 2024 to be too late. Some councils have already scheduled staffing cuts for the 2023-24 financial year.
The RTPI states that a 35% fee increase for major applications and a 25% increase for all other applications would constitute an above-inflation rise. RTPI members expect these increases to help local planning services overcome capacity, recruitment and performance challenges.
To avoid future financial cliff edges, the RTPI has urged the Government to safeguard these potential gains by annually adjusting fees in line with inflation and allowing councils to “ring fence” this additional income for planning service provision.
Richard Blyth, Head of Policy Practice and Research at the RTPI said, “Our members have previously warned that capacity, recruitment and performance are threats to the government’s ambitions to strengthen our plan-led system, boost home ownership and level up. We believe that increased planning fees will provide crucial assistance to local planning authorities in urgent need of support.
“However, while increased fees are an important first step, we do not see them as a silver bullet to meeting the capacity requirements. We’ve also encouraged Government to address the fundamental questions on how our planning system will ensure good – not just fast – decisions in the public interest.
“Proposals to collect better data on local planning authority performance in England are a positive step. The RTPI will continue to advise Government on how improvements in ‘customer experience’ should help the entire community, not just developers.”
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