By Claire West
Responding to proposals announced by Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark to allow councils to set planning fees, Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Environment Board, said:
“It is vital that the country has a sufficiently resourced planning system which is capable of delivering the new development that our towns, cities and villages require.
“Allowing councils to charge the full cost of processing planning applications will help plug a £230 million black hole in the planning system.
“Last year town halls had to subsidise developers by more than £500 for every planning application submitted because rules set in Whitehall prevented them charging the full cost. In this climate of cuts, it would be entirely wrong for taxpayers to continue footing up to two-thirds of the bill.
“We have long been calling for councils to be able to set their own prices for these services to ensure that residents get a fair deal. It is encouraging that the Government has listened. We hope this will be followed by councils being given the full flexibility they need to cover costs for all planning and regulatory services that are tailored to the individual rather than the community.
“Town halls should be able to set their own charges for licensing applications, and need to be able to levy fees for other planning matters like tree preservation orders and listed building consents
“This is not about squeezing developers, but ensuring the best deal for residents. Councils will have a duty to be open and transparent about how they calculate fees.”