Good news for developers as Environment Minister Alex Attwood today launched a consultation on proposed changes to planning fees.
The proposed amendments are designed to reshape elements of the fee structure, with a view to alleviating the financial burden on individuals, developers and others affected by the economic downturn as a further phase of necessary reform of planning.
This includes cutting fees to 25% for applications to renew planning permission and a fairer approach to calculating fees for minerals, gas and waste developments. For example; the application fee to renew a single dwelling (currently £840) would reduce to £210, similarly to renew an application for 1,000 square metres of retail floor space would reduce from £4,928 to £1,232.
Encouraging the public and industry representatives to respond to the consultation, Alex Attwood said: “Both as part of making planning more and more fit for purpose and in the current economic climate, it is important to take measures to assist individuals and developers who are struggling to implement their approved plans before the relevant permission expires.
“If permissions are not implemented and subsequently lapse, this could delay economic recovery and frustrate the hopes of citizens and families. For this reason, I am proposing to reduce the fee for an application to renew planning permission, provided the application is made before the original permission has expired, to 25% of the usual fee.
“I also propose to remove the fee and have “zero fees” for applications for non-profit making organisations in respect of applications for the provision of community facilities (including sports grounds) and playing fields.
“Another step I propose is a change to the way fees are calculated for minerals, gas and waste developments. This is designed to ensure the fee charged for such applications is more proportionate to the actual site area involved and, as a result, many developers will in future pay less than at present.”
The Minister concluded: “It is my aim to make DOE the leading Environment Ministry and a leading Economy Ministry. I believe that through changes like this, we can shape our environment in a way that generates more money and jobs during these difficult financial times. This is a challenging departure for planning but one which I believe is right, timely and justified.”
The consultation proposes a number of other minor amendments to the fee structure to provide further clarity and consistency and ensure that fee levels are more proportionate to the work involved in processing and making decisions on planning applications.
These are the first proposals to be consulted on as part of Phase 2 of the Department’s review of planning fees and funding. The overall aim is to develop a fair and fit for purpose charging system that will secure the sustainability of the planning function in advance of the transfer of planning to local government in 2015.
The consultation document can be accessed on the PlanningNI website at http://www.planningni.gov.uk/planning_fees_consultation_paper_april_2013.pdf