Government 'to allow councils to set planning fees'

Reports that the government is to allow councils to set planning fees feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that "property developers are facing a big increase in the fees they are charged for making planning applications as part of the government’s attempts to balance the books in the autumn spending review". The newspaper says that local authorities "have had to lay off thousands of planning experts following deep financial cuts in recent years, with many developers complaining that the planning process has become slower as a result." The FT also picks up on research by Local Government Association which estimated "that councils have had to cover a third of the cost of all applications since 2012 when legislation capping fees came into force."

The Times (subscription required) reports that pollution levels around Heathrow airport "are more than twice the legal limit, causing fresh demands to abandon plans for a third runway". The newspaper says that research published yesterday "found that levels of toxic gas in gardens close to the airport were regularly 125 per cent higher than maximum thresholds set out by the EU".

The Independent reports that the "latest survey snapshot of the construction sector showed Britain’s builders are in decent health, a significant divergence from the contraction painted by the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics." The newspaper says that the "Markit/Cips Purchasing Managers’ Index for construction in October showed a reading of 58.8, well above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction."

The Guardian reports that "plans to bring local buses back under public control have been dealt a blow by a ruling over Tyne and Wear’s pioneering attempt to regulate its services." The newspaper says that, "in the culmination of a bitter, drawn-out battle between the regional authority in Newcastle upon Tyne and private bus firms, an independent board has dismissed a scheme to re-regulate buses, judging that it does not provide value for money and would have a disproportionate impact on bus operators."

The Dungeness Estate in Kent "has been bought by EDF Energy, the French company that owns a nearby nuclear power station", the Guardian reports. The newspaper says that the "sparsely populated, barren headland on the south Kent coast, home to disused railway coaches and sometimes inaccurately described as ‘Britain’s only desert’, has been snapped up by EDF for an undisclosed amount after being put up for sale in the summer for £1.5 million."

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