The Housing and Planning Bill is currently making progress through the House of Lords, as part of a Government effort to address the current housing shortage and assist local authorities in meeting their housing targets.
will welcome the attention and keen scrutiny that the Bill is receiving as a
sign of a genuine intentions to fix problems in the system. Baroness Gardner of
Parkes, a Conservative backbencher, put forward an amendment to the Bill that
would allow councils to charge more for some planning applications. At the
moment the cost of a planning application is a flat rate, and does not
differentiate between a small house extension and a multi-million pound
the debate, several peers noted their support for the amendment, noting that
local authorities are not always in a position to recover the full costs
involved with large-scale planning applications given the excessive time and
resources which have to be dedicated to them. While there is scope for
authorities to get more funds, for example through planning performance
agreements, this can be a convoluted process.
Government, in response noted that councils have been able to increase the
costs related to planning applications in line with inflation. They are
concerned, though, that looser restrictions could see planning applications
become revenue-raising tools, and thereby put people off from submitting medium
or small-scale planning applications.
minister responding to the debate, Baroness Williams of Trafford, has
first-hand experience of the challenges, as a former leader of Trafford
Council. She stated that pilots will be set up with local authorities to “test
and learn from different approaches to fee setting to better understand how
they can secure well-resourced and top-performing planning departments.”
Given the undertaking from the minister, it is likely that we will see the
Government return to the issue once the pilots are complete.