Big increase in planning fees of up to 35 per cent from December 2023 with a ‘free go’ scrapped
The government has announced that it is to increase sharply planning application fees in an inflation busting move. Whilst inflation was at 8.7% in May and 7.9% in June, the increase of up to 35% far exceeds this.
The increases are as a direct response to The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) consultation on the ‘Stronger performance of local planning authorities supported through an increase in planning fees’ which was open until 25th April 2023.
Draft legislation has already been prepared ready for parliament to approve the changes after the summer recess. Major applications will rise by 35 per cent and all other applications by 25 per cent.
This increase come on top of another big increase by the Planning Portal. From the 2nd May 2023 their fee for simply forwarding on your application and processing the payment rose to £64 including VAT for most applications. The Planning Portal, blamed hosting and transaction fees for the sharp increase. The Planning Portal is owned by TerraQuest Solutions having been privatised in March 2015.
Going forward planning fees will be increased on 1st April every year using the consumer prices index from the previous September, with any annual fee increase capped at 10%. A further fee review will take place within three years. This annual increase will commence on 1st April 2025.
Calls for planning fees to be ring-fenced by local authorities fell on deaf ears and as a result it is likely that a good proportion of fees might not find their way to planning authorities where it is sorely needed. Despite this absence, the Government states that it expects that local planning authorities protect at least the income from the planning fee increase to directly support increased resourcing for planning departments.
‘Free goes’ have also been scrapped. Previously applicants could avoid a fee if they re-apply within 12 months of submitting an application. Now any new application will require a fee. The government expects local authorities to give their views via a pre-app service. As we often hear at Planning Geek the pre-app service is not fit for purpose in many locations around the country as they can drag on for weeks without any concrete response. Some local authorities have stopped the pre-app service all together.
The ‘planning guarantee’ however will be tightened to benefit applicants. Currently applicants are potentially entitled to a refund if the decision hasn’t been decided within 26 weeks. This will reduce to 16 weeks for non-major applications.
Under the increases from December 2023, Prior Approvals will rise to £120 from £96; Householder applications will rise to £258; non-major applications from £578 per dwelling. Other fees will see a 25% increase where they are not major.
There were 495 responses to the consultation, with 226 local authorities responding, 84 planning professionals and 68 developers.
Retrospective fees to be doubled?
The government has not ruled out doubling fees for retrospective applications and intends to potentially bring this forward in future legislation. We will bring that news to you here at Planning Geek if we get wind of this happening.
You can read the responses to the consultation on the government website.
Do you agree with the majority of respondents that the fee increases are needed? Let us know on our Facebook group your thoughts.
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Page updated: 1st November 2023 to correct the dates mentioned