Failing Councils Should See Planning Fee Freeze

Annual increases to planning fees should be contingent on the performance of the planning authority, UKHospitality said today.

In response to proposals that planning fees should increase annually in line with inflation, UKHospitality said planning authorities that fail to provide an adequate service should not be guaranteed an annual uplift in income through planning fees.

Whilst UKHospitality recognises that an increase in planning fees is necessary to aid the performance of local planning departments, it is essential that this goes hand-in-hand with real improvements to the system.

An annual, independent review procedure of local authorities planning departments should be in place to incentivise good performance that delivers for businesses and unlocks investment potential. Any increases to fee increases should be ringfenced for spending within the planning system.

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said:
“An effective, well-resourced planning system can be a real asset for businesses. Returning swift and evidence-based decisions can quickly enable business expansion and investment in local areas, resulting in economic growth and job opportunities.

“Unfortunately, that is not what we have in place at the moment. The current planning system is cumbersome and ineffective.

“A guaranteed annual increase in fees would only cement the current underperformance and incentivise mediocrity. An independent review process that rewards effective planning departments and implements freezes would introduce a true meritocracy and drive effective planning decisions.

“At a time where hospitality businesses are suffering from increased costs at every turn, a guaranteed annual increase with no uptick in performance would be unacceptable. In contrast, venues would be more open to increased fees if it came with quicker decisions that reflect the positive impact hospitality can have on the economy.”

In its response, UKHospitality also urged wider reform of the planning system. It is calling for a fast-track process for smaller applications and a statutory time limit on the time taken for planning decisions.