4 Other Issues Raised by Respondents
4.1 In addition to issues related directly to the proposed increase in the maximum planning fee, respondents referred to a range of wider points. These were primarily related to the wider fee structure and approach to charging across the planning system, although some also referred to the Scottish Government's approach to the consultation within the planning review.
4.2 A number of planning authorities/other public bodies, professional firms/consultants and professional bodies suggested that there is a need for a broad-based review that considers all planning fees, particularly in the context of achieving full cost recovery and specific classes of development where changes are required. Several of these respondents noted that even following implementation of the higher fee maxima, there will remain a significant differential between fees charges in Scotland and the rest of the UK. It was suggested that a full comparison of fees and consideration of options to further close this gap is part of the wider review process. However, a small number of businesses and developers cautioned against a simple comparison of planning fees across administrative boundaries, without also considering differences in planning performance and measures to incentivise performance.
4.3 Respondents also made a number of specific suggestions for changes to the current fee structure, including:
- That the increased planning fees are capped and indexed to control future increases.
- Higher fees for applications for Planning Permission in Principle, particularly for larger development proposals, Strategic Development Area proposals, and proposals involving approval of Matters Specified by Condition ( MSC).
- Additional fees where an application is accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment.
- Enabling planning authorities flexibility to manage their fee income, including reference to variation in the likely benefit to specific planning authorities from increased fees for major developments.
- Additional powers for planning authorities to charge more discretionary fees.
- Introduction of the full planning fee for repeat applications where the first applications was refused, although a business/developer respondent specifically objected to any such change.
- Introduction of charges associated with the submission of appeals, local reviews and other post-determination services.
- Increased fees for retrospective applications as a disincentive.
- Review current fee maxima for applications under Section 36
- Reduction in fees for low value cycle sheds and similar structures, or classification of these as permitted development.
4.4 A small number of respondents also suggested other potential changes for consideration as part of the wider planning review. These included that all applications including Environmental Impact Assessment have a right of appeal to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division ( DPEA), provision of training in the planning system for elected members sitting on Planning Committees and Local Review Bodies, and ensuring that third party rights of appeal are not introduced.
4.5 Respondents also referred to how the present consultation fits within the wider planning review. A substantial number of respondents, primarily businesses/developers and professional firms/consultants expressed concerns regarding the multi-stage review approach, and a view that the proposed increase in planning fees has been brought forward 'prematurely'. This included suggestions that consideration of planning fee increases would best be conducted as part the wider review of fee structures, including consideration of other changes that may increase the cost burden on developers. It was suggested that the planning consultation does not provide justification for raising of planning fees being considered in isolation from wider issues such as improving performance in the planning system.
4.6 Several business and developer respondents expressed specific concerns that the High Level Group in Planning, having a key role in considering the link between planning fees and performance, does not include representation from developers as the most frequent users of the planning system.
Email: Chief Planner
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House