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Planning fee postponement could cost councils £70m

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Councils could miss out almost £70m income by the end of 2017-18 if the government does not implement its plans to increase planning fees, the Local Government Association has warned.

In September a government consultation confirmed it planned to let councils increase planning fees by 20% but only if all income generated from an increase in planning fees is invested in planning departments.

At the time the Department for Communities & Local Government said it would “bring forward regulations at the earliest opportunity” to enable this to happen, but nothing has happened to date.

The DCLG also consulted on a commitment made in the housing white paper to let some councils “who are delivering the homes their communities need” have the power to increase fees by a further 20%. Again, there has been no news on whether that is to happen.

In the Budget, the chancellor said he would introduce measures to speed up development but there was no extra funding to help resource councils’ planning departments.

The LGA said it is “absolutely crucial” the local government finance settlement, expected next week, lets councils increase fees “immediately”.

Martin Tett (Con), the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “The simple fact is that if the government is serious about speeding up the delivery of new homes, they must provide more resources for our planning departments.

“The government has promised to increase planning fees, as a first step to helping speed up development, and we urge them to bring forward this increase as soon as possible - the upcoming local government finance settlement would be an ideal opportunity.”

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