HC Deb 16 September 2004 vol 424 cc161-2WS
The Minister for Housing and Planning (Keith Hill)

In my statement to the House of Commons on 20 January 2004,Official Report, column 55WS, on publication of "The Planning Service: Costs and Fees", I said that that research would be followed up with full consultation on bringing further resource into the planning service.

I have today issued a consultation document. "Changes to the System of Planning Fees in England". This sets out in detail our proposals to improve the resourcing of planning so that it can deliver better services to the community and to business.

The proposals include raising planning fees by an average of 17 per cent. This is intended to help authorities recover more of the costs of handling planning applications. In many cases, especially for the larger applications, the current fee falls far short of the handling costs.

The increases are designed to fall differentially on applicants. For example a small business which acquired a new property and needed to apply for a change of use permission would see a fee increase from £220 to £240. Major developers and larger applicants will be asked to pay more—the maximum fee for a major development will rise from £11,000 to £28,000.

I am also consulting on the introduction of a performance relationship, the first time this has happened in relation to fees increases. Those authorities that meet Government targets for handling major applications will be allowed to increase the application fee they charge by up to 10 per cent. to help them meet more of the costs of handling these large and often complex applications. This will encourage authorities to work harder to meet our targets. Authorities that offer the facility for applications to be made online will also have the option to reduce those fees to encourage the submission of online applications and greater efficiency in the system.

In all, the proposed increases are expected to raise around £30 million for the planning service. Next year we will also be considering the need to look at widening the scope of planning fees, and the need for further regular increases in fees to ensure that costs in providing a planning service are being fully covered. In the meantime, I consider that the rises proposed are a sensible increase, which together with the continuing planning delivery grant, is helping to provide sustained and much-needed resource to improve planning services.

The document is available on the ODPM website copies are also available in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation period ends on 6 December.