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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham planning fees to increase by 20 per cent

From Wednesday 17 January, and in line with new government regulations, Cheltenham Borough Council will introduce the 20 per cent increase to planning fees.

Planning applications submitted before that date and assessed as being valid by Cheltenham Borough Council will not be subject to the increase. However, anyone submitting a planning application which is and remains invalid up to 17 January will have to pay the increased fee.

The move comes as no surprise, coming hot on the heels of announcements from Cotswold District Council and Gloucester City Council.

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety, continued: "Cheltenham has an efficient and well respected planning department which tackles a wide range of planning issues within the town.

"The increased fee income will allow the council to invest further in the planning service to ensure that it is able to respond effectively to the challenges of the future, such as the implementation of the Joint Core Strategy and Local Plan."

Tracey Crews, director of planning, says: "We are pleased to see the national rise in planning fees which recognises the cost of delivering a planning service.

"Over the coming weeks we will also be reviewing our pre-application service; including a review of these charges where appropriate. This would allow us to be able to invest more in our pre-application advice services to promote high quality sustainable development."

Reacting to the news, Rob Ellis, of SF Planning in Gloucester, said: "The national 20 per cent increase in planning application fees on 17th January 2018 has been mooted by central government for some time and has been delayed from the originally stated increase date of July 2017.

"Planning application fees were last increased in November 2012, by 15 per cent. In planning terms, this is a long time ago. The past five years have seen numerous changes in planning, as well as a different fiscal landscape and deep cuts to planning departments throughout the country. In my view we have been long overdue an increase in fees.

"When the increase was first discussed by central government, the idea was to reinvest this 20 per cent increase into local planning authorities. If the government is true to its word, and I sincerely hope it is, then this will help counter some of the deep cuts we have seen to planning departments and, in particular, the reduction in the number of public sector planners. 

"However, this is very much the tip of the iceberg and in my view local planning authorities need far greater financial support for the challenges that lie ahead. I wouldn't be surprised to see further increases in the near future, or even the first time introduction of fees for submitting planning appeals.

"All in all though, whilst a 20 per cent increase sounds a lot, in reality it won't impact the developer world significantly, as planning fees are a drop in the ocean compared to other development costs."

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