Proposed Planning Reforms 2012
Date: August 2012
For the first time since 2008 planning application fees are set to rise from Autumn 2012 and quite significantly.
This decision, which was announced on the 4 July 2012, has transpired following a shortfall in fee income against the planning process reported by the majority of Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) which has lead to the ordinary council tax payer subsidising the planning process.
The proposed increase of 15% will significantly effect large agricultural units and other major developments where several times the fee base of £335 is paid.
Further matters include:-
• A reduction in planning guidance from the current 6,000 pages which Acorus assumes will include Circulars. This follows the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) whereby 1,000 pages of policy were reduced to 50.
• A consultation regarding measures to be put in place to remove unnecessary information in the application process.
Currently a raft of validation requirements exists to supply a number of supporting documentation, many of which seem unnecessary. Examples that Acorus have been involved with include full plans and elevations for buildings to be demolished and contamination surveys for arable land.
• A consultation regarding amendments to the Use Classes Order making it easier to re-use existing agricultural, retail and commercial buildings without the need to submit a planning application.
• A consultation regarding an effective mechanism to be put in place for applicants to obtain an Award for Costs where a statutory consultee has acted unreasonably.
This would protect the LPA, for example in a recent Acorus case an application was refused following comments from the Highways Authority but the LPA ended up bearing the costs at Appeal. Statutory consultees may in the future be more mindful of their comments if such rules are introduced.
Overall, the above reforms are to make the planning system simpler, clearer and more accessible.