Friday, May 13, 2016

News: Council introduces new planning charges


Rotherham Council has introduced a charging system for pre-planning advice which helps applicants decide whether planning permission is required and if it is likely permission would be granted.

Previously only required when developers with large applications for commercial projects or housing schemes, new charges include a set fee of £72 for specific enquiries about house extensions, alterations or changing the use of a property, or £48 per hour for listed building advice. Charges for advice relating to larger developments starts from £300.

Rotherham's planning department is in the top ten local authorities nationally for the services it provides to customers but Rotherham Council has to find more than £48m of budget savings over the next three years. It comes at the same time as the planning department has reported an application income shortfall, stating that it was not covering its costs for providing advice to customers.


Paul Woodcock, director of Planning, Regeneration and Culture at Rotherham Council, said: "The pre-application service offers clear, impartial and professional advice to applicants before they submit a planning application. This process is encouraged by Government as an essential part of the planning process. Other local authorities such as Sheffield and Barnsley already charge for this service.

"In introducing fees for advice for smaller developments - such as a home extension - we have looked at how much it actually costs to provide the advice. The fee we have agreed offers very good value for money compared to similar services offered by other authorities.

"The pre-application process allows applicants to discuss whether planning permission is needed, to ask the Council to consider plans and whether they need to be amended before they are submitted, and to look at drawings. This can both speed up the process of an application and give more certainty to the application being approved.

"Given current local authority budget constraints, the Council can no longer afford to keep offering this valuable service for free. Ultimately, we are trying to save the customer time, as well as the disappointment of having a plan rejected that could have been avoided if only they had contacted us first."

A proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is also on the way that would result in developers wanting to build houses and out of town retail projects in the Rotherham borough paying a levy under a new scheme designed to raise an estimated £12m to support local infrastructure.

A Draft Charging Schedule has been devised by the Council that would see housing developers pay different amounts in different areas of the borough, ranging from £55 / sq m in areas like Whiston and Wickersley, to £30 / sq m in the Dearne, and £15 / sq m at Bassingthorpe Farm.

Developers proposing a new supermarket would pay £60 / sq m and the development of Retail Warehouse / Retail Parks would incur £30 / sq m. Business park office, industrial, and town centre comparison retail developments are not considered viable under current market conditions and would not attract any levy.

In addition, when the Local Plan is adopted and attractive sites are released to the market, planning fees are set to increase.

Rotherham Council website

Images: RMBC


Trambuster,  May 13, 2016 at 12:33 PM  

"The pre-application service offers clear, impartial and professional advice to applicants before they submit a planning application. ......" hmmmmmm, really?

The background of planning staff mainly consists of them going to school, then to big school (university), then getting a job in a local authority, then climbing the well remunerated career ladder across various local authorities and then ultimately retiring on a very comfortable pension.

These people haven't got a clue as to the definition of clarity, impartiality or professionalism - all they know, are the prejudices and entrenched views that their very limited experience has imbued upon them.

Rob Foulds May 14, 2016 at 11:51 AM  

So, not only do we have to pay for a planning application, we also have to pay to talk to 'em beforehand and receive their 'opinions'.

And then, if we get planning permission, we have to give 'em even more money.

You could not contrive a greater deterrence to the building industry - er, that's the same industry that keeps thousands and thousands of people in employment and is now charged with the responsibility of dealing with the nation's housing crisis.


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