Councils are calling on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to allow them to increase planning fees. The renewed pressure on the Government comes after analysis from the Local Government Association (LGA) found that taxpayers are subsidising councils’ costs by as much as £200m each year.
The analysis carried out by the LGA found that since fees were last increased in 2012, a third of all planning applications have come at a cost to local authorities. On average, planning departments deal with 486,500 applications every year. The LGA has calculated the costs of dealing with applications is increasing by £200m a year, and will reach £1bn by 2022.
Such a large ongoing shortfall means that planning departments can be under-resourced, preventing quick decisions being made on applications and holding up the supply of new housing.
Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and the LGA’s 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.
‘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.’
To address the shortfall, the LGA urged the Government to act on its proposal to increase planning fees by 20%, announced in the Housing White Paper. Councils have also called on DCLG to trial a locally calculated fee setting scheme.