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Planning fees set to rocket in proposed ODPM reform

Planning fees could jump by up to 450 per cent if radical plans, officially announced last Friday, get the go-ahead.

As revealed by the AJ 14 months ago (AJ 21.11.02), the ODPM is on the verge of implementing a report that would make planning departments financially self-sufficient.

If planning minister Keith Hill gives the proposals the green light it would force planners to raise planning fees to cover all departmental costs.

The report - drawn up by Arup economics guru David Edwards - explores funding streams for planning departments and looks into reforming their cash-flow rules.

The Planning Service: Costs and Fees states that 'full cost recovery is considered to be a continuing ambition of the fee system' and that it 'should be sought for those application types for which fees are currently charged'.

It also states that many types of application will see a fees hike because '100 per cent cost recovery cannot be achieved on all applications and therefore there will be an element of cross-subsidy'.

However, critics claim that self-sufficiency will lead to increased bureaucracy with an unhealthy expansion in accounts departments.

RTPI policy chief Kelvin McDonald also warned there was a serious principle at stake: 'Planning is supposed to be for the public good - for everyone, not simply those that can afford it.'

'We are concerned that this will make the wealthy planning departments wealthier while the poorer ones will just get poorer, ' he added.

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