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Planning fees increase in England takes effect

18 January 2018

Local planning authorities in England are allowed to increase planning fees by 20% from this week on. The new regulations came into effect yesterday (17 January 2018), following the laying of an order before Parliament just before the Christmas break.

The online Planning Portal has now published the updated planning fee schedule for England. Users were reminded that all draft applications in England already on its system will be cleared and developers’ agents will have to recalculate applications fees with the new higher values. Users amending previously submitted applications may also need to pay a higher fee on re-submission.

At the same time, the government published regulations that will allow applications to be made for Permission in Principle (PiP) for minor housing-led development from 1 June 2018, and confirmed a fee of £402 per 0.1 hectare for the new outline planning route. Detailed planning guidance on PiP developer applications is still pending.

Local authorities were given a deadline of 31 December 2017 to publish brownfield land registers of sites suitable for housing, with the registers intended to be a vehicle for local planners to establish PiP sites. PiP confirms location, use, and the amount of residential-led development that will be allowed, with house builders then needing ‘Technical Details’ consent for full permission.

Local planning authorities in England are allowed to increase planning fees by 20% from this week on

The planning fee increase has been on the cards for almost a year, since the government published its Housing White Paper. The increase was offered conditional on local authorities agreeing to re-invest the additional money in improving planning services.

RIBA Planning Group chair Philip Waddy says architects have been speaking of their serious concerns about chronically under-resourced planning departments, with reports of phone calls and emails going unanswered and long waits for pre-planning advice meetings.

‘Will the extra 20% make a difference? We will have to wait and see, but in the meantime I have been suggesting that architects should check to see if their local planning authority has a user group, and if not perhaps write to the head of planning to suggest one.

Many local planning authorities operate an agents panel that meets periodically to review service and listen to the views of those using the planning system, with the intention of both sides to assist the other in making improvements.’

The government also introduced a number of planning fees that catch up with recently enacted planning policies. Local authorities will be allowed to charge for applications for planning permission following the removal of permitted development rights through Article 4 directions – a response prompted by councils seeking area-based opt-outs for offices to homes conversions.

Fees become payable to access the pre-application services offered by mayoral and urban development corporations, and there is a £96 fee for prior approval applications for certain permitted development rights introduced in April 2015 and April 2017, including the installation of solar PV equipment on non-domestic buildings.

Thanks to Philip Waddy, Partner, West Waddy ADP.

Text by Neal Morris. This is a Professional Feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas

RIBA Core Curriculum Topic: Places, Planning and Communities
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Posted on 18 January 2018

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