Council leaders call for freedom on planning fees

Councils are calling for the freedom to manage their own planning fees, after research emerged suggesting that £450 million was spent over the past three years to cover the cost of processing applications.

Data published by the Local Government Association (LGA) found that since 2012, councils have been forced to cover a third of all costs of planning applications, ultimately deflecting finances away from other services.

On average, councils process 467,000 planning applications each year. As a result, the LGA and the British Property Federation are urging the government to review planning fees as part of the upcoming Spending Review. Both organisations are warning that the cost of planning applications will exceed £1 billion by 2020.

Councillor Peter Box, LGA housing spokesman, said: “It is unacceptable for communities to keep being forced to spend hundreds of millions each year to cover a third of the cost of all planning applications.”

He added: “The Spending Review should allow local authorities to recover the actual cost of applications and end such a needless waste of taxpayers' money when developers are willing to pay more.

“Locally-set fees would also allow councils to protect residents from hiked fees while developers and house builders could pay more to improve the ability of councils to speed up the planning process and maintain high-quality planning decisions.”

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