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Decentralisation of fees and the Portal

by on October 6, 2011

Announcements about any plans regarding the decentralisation of planning application fees in England will be made by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in due course.

If decentralisation of fees goes ahead, DCLG has identified in principle sufficient money to fund the development of a new fee calculator.

This will enable the Portal continue to provide a complete online application service with tools to calculate and pay fees, supporting the Government’s objectives on digital services.

The new fee calculator, should it be required, will be based on the LPA-led Planning Advisory Service (PAS) fees benchmarking model, of which an output is a fees schedule of new categories and sub-categories.

The calculator will be enabled so that LPAs can input the fees and categories themselves whilst preserving a single point of entry for our mutual customers.

This solution will be provided free of charge to LPAs using the model.

Any LPAs who plan to use alternative fee models to the PAS one should contact us as soon as possible to discuss your requirements. We intend to make our core solution as flexible as possible and therefore hope to keep any charges for bespoke calculators as low as possible.

Further information on the new calculator will be provided if it is announced that the decentralisation of fees is to go ahead. This notification should not be taken as any indication of the likely decision.

  1. Sir the last Blog form Mr Roger Milne talks on the (NPPF) national level of the elements but at the local level the basic PAS for LPAs need attention too the electronic application(s) have to be made more user friendly for ordinary people and the two (1)Planning Permission (2) Building regulations to be made more integrated like the of the working coalition though they are in different departments.This have to be made clear for the people at the very beginning of the planning work

  2. Keith Jenkinson permalink

    Sir It is essential that planning and building control are separate applications and separate fees as each require different skills. To try to integrate them at the first point of an application which is normally a planning application, it would mean planners getting involved in building control regulations which they are not qualified to comment on. The system works at the moment as long as an approval for planning indicates it does not constitute building regulation approval. If it’s not broken do not try to fix it.

    Keith Jenkinson

  3. Trevor Dennington permalink

    Give LPAs the right to set their own planning application fees and those fees will go through the roof. They will use drastic increases to partially offset the spending cuts that the government is seeking to impose on local authorities, rather than identifying and eliminating the 20% of public expenditure they all waste according to the advice given to Tony Blair by his economics adviser.
    One has already seen planning authorities seeking to include a proportion of the costs of running authority staff car parks and tea machines when purportedly calculating the cost of dealing with planning applications.
    Given the salary levels of officers involved, charging ANY applicant a fee of £250,000 or more to deal with a planning application for a housing development – even one of 100 dwellings – is patently ridiculous.

    • PortalDirector permalink

      it’s my understanding that should decentralisation of fees go ahead, LPAs will be under very close scrutiny as to what can and cannot be charged back.
      Each will have to explain their charging and publish their calculations for local comment before any change is made.

      • Trevor Dennington permalink

        Thank you for your response, PortalDirector.
        Unfortunately it is very easy to be “creative” when assessing any kind of costs. Some authorities might be minded to include, for example, a percentage of the costs of running the authority’s legal section or its committee administration costs both of which might academically be regarded in part as a cost of dealing withn planning matters. The overseer needs to ensure that NO such “contributory” costs are included.

  4. somasunderam permalink

    Sir I agree to Keith Jenkinson’s, but to work in any form of building administration either planning or building control one need to have basic technical and IT including CAD and Portal Use skills but the many LA staff are not technically skilled to use this complex National Planning Portal, its best to have the portal fixed first.

  5. Michael Hayes permalink

    There is an asymmetry in the current fee regime which needs to be corrected.

    Firstly fees should only be payable on projects which are granted permission.

    Secondly refusals should have a three year expiry date the same as approvals and during this time the Local Authority should pay the applicant a sum equal to the lost rental value of the project.

    This would have the effect of forcing the Local Authority to justify its decisions to local taxpayers and put a true financial value on the benefit to the wider community of refusing a project balanced against the lost development rights of the applicant.

  6. Ted Leggett permalink


    I feel that making no charge, or refunding fees with a refusal will end up with a situation where developers feel they can “take a punt” with many frivolous applications, safe in the knowledge that it will cost them next to nothing.
    I also do not think that you can justify paying sums out on projects that are refused. Again, this would result in people playing the system, applying for schemes that they know will have no chance of permission, but will gain them some revenue by forcing LAs to pay out.

    I cannot speak for all LA’s, but the one I work for has to justify all refusals, and should an applicant feel that this refusal is not justified, there is an appeal system that works very well

    • Michael Hayes permalink


      At present, to mirror your phraseology, there are too many “frivolous” refusals. Apart from a few high profile cases, the majority of applicants are not developers. Most local taxpayers are unaware of the thousands of minor projects which are refused: the small business which is denied the right to expand or the growing family which is not allowed to build an extra bedroom.

      My proposal, as stated in my previous post, is to put a financial value on those projects and then ask local taxpayers if the benefit to the wider community of a refusal is honestly worth the loss to the applicant. Councils that can explain the benefit to the public of refusing say a trivial domestic extension have nothing to fear from asking taxpayers to pay the “going rate” for that benefit.

      • Ted Leggett permalink

        I do not see how we could estimate the financial implications of “a trivial domestic extension”, any more than we could estimate the cost that an extension may have on a neighbouring properties value should it be overshadowed etc. We have a number of parameters that we consider when deciding applications, and i feel that to prioritise financial implications overdesign, amenity etc would be a dangerous precedent to set.

        I do agree with you that small businesses may often find the costs of change of use applications prohibitive, especially if they feel they cannot take the risk and then get a refusal, but in a time when LA’s are also struggling financially, should we be the ones to take the financial hit, potentially at a cost to other services/employees?

    • Trevor Dennington permalink

      “I feel that making no charge, or refunding fees with a refusal will end up with a situation where developers feel they can “take a punt” with many frivolous applications, safe in the knowledge that it will cost them next to nothing.”
      Some may be stupid enough to try that on. But if the application is THAT frivolous, it can surely be refused in 20 minutes flat.

      • Michael Hayes permalink


        Everything has a price. The cost of refused planning permission can be calculated very easily. It is simply the rental value of the space. So in the case of a small business project it is the pounds per square metre rental value of the commercial space that has been refused planning permission. In the case of a trivial domestic project it is the rental value of, for example, an extra bedroom that has been refused. These figures are readily available on a regional basis.

        At London rates the rental value of a bedroom might equate to say £100 per week. It would be a simple matter to ask local council tax payers as part of the normal planning application consultation process whether they think the benefit to them of denying one of their neighbours an extra bedroom is worth £5000 a year. If they say yes then the Local Authority would have a legitimate mandate to increase council tax for everyone else to compensate the unsuccessful applicant. It really is that simple to introduce capitalist democracy into the planning system.

  7. Ian Whittaker permalink

    I would like to hear the Portal’s views on the potential flexibility to deal with variations which an LPA might wish to operate. I realise that this will be dependent on the Regs – whenever they muight appear. For example whether there are any “free go” applications for a re-submission? An LPA might wish to operate a “discount for a repeated application of the same character and discription”. Will there be flexiblity to offer a percentage reductions in specified cases.

    Similarly we operate pre-application charging for informal advice. For those applicants who have done this then the workload in dealing with an application will, on average, be less than one who submits the application without advice. We may wish to offer a discount for those who have followed pre-app advice. Will this option be built in to the Portal?

    • PortalDirector permalink

      Hi Ian,
      the short answer is yes, but like you we await the Ministers decision.

  8. Barrie Christian permalink

    I am sure all agents making online applications would not want to pay the application fee. Which would mean, somehow, the applicant registering and logging on the system to pay the fee. I am sure it would be simpler for them to send a cheque, as now.

  9. Keith G permalink

    Knowing the problems that the well publicised “Postcode Lottery” invites in the supposed “National” health service, I find it amazing that there is any intention to go down the same clearly unsatisfactory road with development and planning.

    At a time when the nation should be seeking to encourage growth, how regionalisation is going to promote the necessary stimulus is beyond me. Every agent is well aware that “objections” at the planning application stage of any project are on the up, mainly due to the ease of which anyone can now “go online” and put in their often irrelevant two pen’orth. More often than not apparent self appointed and unqualified do-gooders, under the guise of protecting neighbourhood interests, are increasingly slowing up and sometimes preventing completely reasonable development at all levels. Multiply this to a national level and there will be less development, therefore less jobs and less growth. The fees will be just one small part of the fall-out.

Please give us your feedback but we won’t publish any comments that are not constructive or that criticise any individual, any named business or any local authority. Please note, all comments will be moderated before being published.

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