Whilst the consultation suggested that the planning fee increases would be introduced from ‘Summer 2023’, the Government has announced that they will now not come into force until 1st April 2024.
The proposed planning fee increases will be 35% for major planning applications and 25% for all other applications. Furthermore, fees will increase annually on the 1st April each year, using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). Any annual fee increase will be capped at 10%.
Furthermore, the ‘free-go’ for repeat applications (i.e. those withdrawn or refused) will be removed. A knock on consequence of this may be an increase in the submission of appeals, however the Government believes that amendments and improvements to schemes should be addressed through the pre-application stage to ensure that high quality schemes are submitted first time round.
The Government explain that following the increase in planning application fees, it is expected that the performance of local planning authorities will improve. To support this, the Government is also amending the ‘planning guarantee’ policy – which gives applicants the right to a refund of fees if their submission is not determined within 26 weeks – by reducing it to 16 weeks for non-major planning applications. However, it remains that this does not apply if an extension of time has been agreed between parties.
The Government has also scrapped their plans to ‘ring fence’ the additional income generated by the planning fee increases. The Government noting that local authorities were best placed to make decisions about funding local services, including planning departments.
Overall, there is support from those within the industry to increasing planning fees provided local planning authorities can improve their service and speed up decision making. Whilst a step in the right direction, there are a number of other factors that also need to be addressed by the Government and local planning authorities including recruitment, retention and skills.
For confirmation of any of the details, and how they may affect your interests, please don’t hesitate to contact us.