The draft Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2008 are currently before Parliament. The proposed increase in planning application fees is aimed at enabling local authorities to recover the costs of determining fee-paying planning applications.
As part of the planning White Paper package in May 2007, the Government published the consultation paper Planning Fees in England: Proposals for Change, in which respondents were specifically asked to indicate their views on the principle of each local planning authority being able to set its own (non-profit making) planning charges in future.
The Government's response to consultation replies was published on 29 November 20071. In relation to local fee setting, opinion was divided, business being generally against the proposal and local planning authorities split. Businesses which trade across the country wanted certainty about what fees they could be charged, and local variation would frustrate this. The Government concluded that,
“there is insufficient support for this at present, but we will consider whether there are ways in the future of dealing with some of the issues raised”.
This would include working in consultation with the Local Government Association and other stakeholders.
1 The Planning Fees in England: Proposals for Change—Government response to consultation replies—http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/planningfees.
The Planning Bill will not include proposals relating to conservation areas. However, the Government intend to publish a draft Heritage Protection Bill for prelegislative scrutiny in spring 2008. This will set out proposals to take forward the reform programme outlined in the heritage protection White Paper Heritage Protection for the 21st Century. These include proposals to merge conservation area consent with planning permission and to amend the Demolition Direction and the General Permitted Development Order to provide that demolition and partial demolition of a building in a conservation area is classed as “development”.