1 May 2024

Victoria Du Croz speaks to Property Week on the slow path to planning reform

Partner and Head of Planning, Victoria Du Croz, met with Property Week to discuss the planning system and the government’s decision to increase application fees.

Many people attribute delays in the planning system to under-resourced local planning authorities. However, the government’s solution – to increase planning application fees at the end of last year – caused an outcry among developers, with many rushing to submit applications before the fees hike.

Much of the outcry focused on the government’s refusal to ringfence income from the increased fees so that it could only be spent within the planning department of the local authority. Given how cash-strapped local authorities are, it would be understandable if income generated from fees was diverted to prop up other council services.

In practice, this means many developers are paying the increased application fee and are still being asked by local authorities to enter into a planning performance agreement (PPA). PPAs will usually set out an agreed programme for determination, including commitments on officer engagement in return for the developer paying a fee.

However, what can a developer do if the local planning authority does not keep to the determination programme set out in the PPA or fails to ensure a sufficient level of officer involvement? Many are calling for PPAs to have more teeth, but in practice what penalty could there be other than requiring the local planning authority to return the PPA fee?

The developer still would not have any certainty over the determination period, and the local planning authority would have to return money it has probably already spent.

The full article, published on 18 April 2024, can be accessed here behind the paywall.

Our Insights

"Approachable, friendly and has all the knowledge and skill set required to support our business."
Chambers UK, 2022