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    Planning charges shake-up proposed

    Under Government proposals now out for consultation local councils would have the power to set their own fees to cover the costs of handling planning applications, ending the current system where charges are set nationally.

    Planning authorities would not be able to make a profit on fees but would be able to recover the actual cost of dealing with the application, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has stressed.

    Decentralisation minister Greg Clark said: “Letting councils set their own fees is a much fairer system for both the applicant and the local taxpayer and will ensure there is flexibility in the system to recover the actual costs of applications.”

    Councillor Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment Board, said: “Allowing councils to charge the full cost of processing planning applications will help plug a £230m 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.

    “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.”

    He added: “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.”

    If proposals on decentralising planning fees are taken forward following consultation, local authorities will be able to set their own fees from April 2011. They will be given six months from April to October to publish their fees. During that period they will be able to use the current fees set by Government which would be withdrawn in October.

    Planning Portal 18.11.2010