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Half of MPs think planning fees should increase

Words: Laura Edgar

Most MPs believe that fees for planning applications should be increased, according to the results of a ComRes poll.

Commissioned by the British Property Federation (BPF), the poll suggests that 61 per cent of MPs “broadly agree that fees should increase” while 47 per cent of the respondents say they should increase with stronger guarantees.

The results of the poll also suggest that there is cross-party support for an increase in planning fees, with 65 per cent of Labour MPs and 65 per cent of Conservative MPs supporting the idea.

In October 2015, the BPF and GL Hearn released their 2015 Annual Planning Survey, which suggested that more than half of local planning authorities are suffering from a lack of resources, with around 65 per cent of applicants saying they would be happy to pay more to shorten waiting times.

Communities secretary Greg Clark has since announced that he will consult on allowing well-performing planning department to “increase their fees in line with inflation at the most, providing that the revenues reduce the cross-subsidy that the planning function currently gets from council taxpayers”.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, said: “The public and private sectors have both been very clear about the need for more resourcing in local authority planning departments, and we now know that there is political understanding of this issue as well.”

Leech said the BPF is “supportive” of the “small steps” the government is taking to address this, but is not “holding out hope for any great impact”.

“Some local authority planning departments are simply short-staffed, putting those who remain under enormous strain. Outsourcing the processing of planning applications is likely to relieve this burden to an extent, but it is not going to solve the chronic shortage of skills and resource that is the true problem,” she concluded.

* 150 MPs were interviewed by ComRes between 13 January and 23 February 2016 for the poll. The results were weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons in terms of party representation and regional constituency distribution.

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