The government has lent a helping hand to the construction industry by freezing planning application and appeal fees for one year in a bid to stimulate new projects
Housing minister John Healey said the fee freeze would save developers £23 million this year, money which can be reinvested into new projects that will sustain the UK construction sector through what is predicted to be a stale year for the economy.
Announcing the freeze, Healey said: ‘At a time when investing in new developments is difficult, and when access to funding is hard, it would be wrong to increase the costs of developers who will help drive economic recovery.
‘I recognise that as we start to work through economic recovery, we need to do what we can to keep builders on construction sites and keep plans on the table.
‘It is important that we react to the economic circumstances and listen to the needs of people, industry and developers and we have done just that.’
Responding to the news, Country Land and Business Association president William Worsley said: ‘It is unfortunate that there has been no improvement in the planning application process since the Government decided to increase planning application fees in 2005 and again in 2008. However, we are pleased to see that common sense has prevailed and that the Government has frozen any further hikes this year.
The President added: ‘Our biggest concern though is that many rural businesses have been stopped in their tracks by the 2008 increase. How can small-scale rural businesses, including farming and diversified businesses ever expect to contribute to economic recovery if they cannot afford to obtain planning permission to remain profitable businesses in the first place?
‘Before any further increases are envisaged let’s first see a dramatic improvement in the handling of planning applications. Secondly, we are still looking for a resolution from the Government to the consequences that emerged from the 2008 planning fee increase which are still causing severe problems for some of our rural business members.’