Policy Summary: Regulations aiming to clear the way for across-the-board increase in application fees

Policy: Draft Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017.

Parliament: fees rise regulations laid
Parliament: fees rise regulations laid

Issued by: Department for Communities and Local Government

Issue date: 19 October 2017

Background: In February 2016, the government first outlined plans to increase planning application fees. One year later, the housing white paper offered councils the chance to increase application fees by 20 per cent if they could commit to ring- fencing the additional income for planning services. The increase was due to be introduced in July but was delayed after the government failed to lay the necessary regulations before Parliament prior to the summer recess. This draft statutory instrument will be subject to parliamentary debate before going before both houses for approval.

Key points: The latest regulations make a series of amendments to those from 2012 that govern the current application fee arrangements. According to an explanatory note accompanying the latest regulations, fees for planning applications, deemed applications, requests and site visits are to be increased by 20 per cent across the board.

A new fee table in the regulations sets out a series of charges ranging from a minimum of £96, up from a previous minimum of £80, to a maximum of £300,000, up from £250,000. The increased fees will come into force 28 days after the regulations are passed by Parliament and will apply to all applications, requests and site visits made on or after that date.

Local authorities would also be allowed to introduce a charge for applications for permission in principle, a new form of two-stage consent introduced via the Housing and Planning Act 2016. According to the regulations, councils can charge £402 for each 0.1 hectare of the development site area.

A further fee would be introduced for prior approval applications in relation to a series of permitted development rights that came into force in April 2015 and April 2017. These include the provision of temporary state-funded schools on vacant commercial land, the temporary use of land or buildings for film-making and the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment up to one megawatt on the roofs of non-domestic buildings.

Fees for such applications will be £96, according to the explanatory note. Fees would also be allowed for applications in areas where permitted development rights have been withdrawn under an article 4 direction or by a condition imposed on a permission.

Mayoral and urban development corporations would be able to charge fees for pre-application advice. Corporations must adopt a fee schedule, which is to be published online and issued in hard copy on request.

Like other planning authorities, mayoral and urban development corporations must ensure that income from pre-application fees does not exceed the cost of giving that advice.

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