Scottish Government proposes ‘substantial’ planning fees increase

planning stockThe Scottish Government has today opened a consultation on proposals to increase fees and resources for major planning applications.

The consultation paper seeks views on a new fee maximum of £125,000 for major applications for most categories of development (£62,500 for applications for planning permission in principle).

It includes details of a reduced charge per unit or per 0.1 hectare for developments over a certain size to ensure that applicants in Scotland do not pay more than they would in other administrations for any size of proposed development.

Issuing the consultation the Scottish Government said it recognises the importance of planning in supporting economic growth, in the delivery of quality homes and in community empowerment.

It added: “We have committed to consulting on enhanced fees, following the independent review of planning recommendation that fees for major applications should be increased substantially so that the service moves towards full cost recovery.

“We will be considering wider changes to the fee structure, including scope for further discretionary charging taking account of changes to the planning system flowing from the review.”

The Scottish Property Federation (SPF) said the move is a major turning point for local authority planning services around the country.

The real estate industry membership organisation welcomed the news that the new fees are to remain competitive with like for like charges south of the border, however, the SPF said it would have liked to have seen greater certainty that additional resources released by the planning fees would be used for the purposes of improving the planning service in each local authority.

Paul Curran, chairman of the SPF, said: “It is important that we maintain our competiveness. To grow the economy, we must kick-start more development across the commercial and residential sectors.

“These significantly increased planning fees must lead to a significant improvement in the speed and manner that major applications are dealt with. The additional resources must be utilised to provide appropriate resources to deliver these critical improvements in the planning service.

“Modern major development is a very complex business involving a plethora of regulatory requirements, complicated finance and risk. Currently the development markets in Scotland are seeing low levels of activity across the country as a whole although there are some hot-spots such as Edinburgh’s St Andrew’s Square.”

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