Planning & Environment

On 1 November 2014, the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2014 will come into force and will introduce an across the board 5% increase on planning application fees.

This means that, for example, the application fee for planning permission for new residential development will be £401 (currently £382) for each 0.1 hectare of the application site, subject to a maximum of £20,055 (currently £19,100) (or £401 per dwelling), and the application fee for householder development will increase by £10 to £202 (currently £192).

The Scottish Government considers that the proposed 5% increase will strengthen resources and the capability of the planning authorities to deliver a high performing planning service whilst maintaining a supportive business environment that promotes sustainable economic growth.

But what’s in a number? The increase, albeit a relatively small one, is the second in 18 months – since April 2013, we’ve seen a 25% increase in planning fees in Scotland. One might argue that we shouldn’t feel as aggrieved as our English counterparts, who are subject to substantially higher planning application fees, but a 25% in 18 months does sound like a lot and for some be a bitter pill to swallow if their applications are not progressing as quickly as they anticipated they would (improved planning services being a key driver for the increases).

Planning authorities have of course been measured against a Planning Performance Framework since 2012 (which outlines what a ‘high-performing planning authority’ should deliver and key indicators of performance), and since 30 June 2014 the Scottish Ministers have had the power to amend the Fees Regulations such that different fees are payable to different planning authorities where the Ministers are satisfied that planning functions are not being performed satisfactorily.

Recent statistics published by the Scottish Government show that in quarter 1 of 2013/14, the average decision time for an application for local development was 10.1 weeks and for major development it was 28.9 weeks – both being the quickest average decision times since average time reporting started in 2012 (although figures exclude pre-3 August 2009 legacy cases). So the message seems to be that things are improving, but how much of this is down to increased planning fees is perhaps a moot point. It’ll be interesting to see how the statistics play out next year following this second increase.

Planning & Environment