LGA warns of planning costs shortfall

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The Local Government Association has warned of a planning application cost shortfall, with councils needing some £1Bn to cover costs over the next five years.

With planning fees set nationally, councils have to cover the cost shortfall in processing planning applications. And with some 486,500 planning applications received on average each year, these costs are spiralling. Planning fees were last increased in 2012, and communities have been subsidising the shortfall ever since.

Analysis by the LGA reveals the bill to cover the cost of planning applications is growing at a rate of around £200M a year and will reach £1Bn by 2022. This represents desperately needed revenue being diverted away from local resources, and is the equivalent of:

  • Repairing 4.35M potholes – potholes cost £46 to repair, on average.
  • Providing grant funding to help councils and housing associations provide 8,507 new affordable homes. The Homes and Communities Agency, on the last round of funding allocation through the Affordable Homes Programme, issued an average grant per home of £23,510.
  • Creating more than 828 miles of public pavements, almost 4 times the length of the M6 – footways are estimated to cost around £150 per meter.

The stark warning from the LGA is warning that this ongoing fees shortfall is hampering planning departments’ ability to stimulate housing growth in communities, in direct opposition to the Government’s housing white paper calling for a major housebuilding push.

The LGA wants to government to allow councils to increase planning fees, and commit to a fair and transparent scheme of local fee setting, allowing councils to recover actual costs.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “It is wrong for communities to keep being forced to spend hundreds of millions each year to cover the cost of all planning applications.

“Councils are working flat-out to approve almost nine in ten planning applications, with the majority processed quickly.

“But the shortfall in the amount of fees councils can charge and the cost of processing applications is heaping further pressure on the stretched planning departments which are so crucial to building the homes and roads that local communities need.

“Councils need to be able to recover the actual cost of applications and end such a needless waste of taxpayers’ money.

“Locally-set fees would also allow councils to prevent increased costs being passed on to residents, while developers could contribute more to maintain high-quality planning decisions, and improve the ability of councils to speed up the planning process.”


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