Monday, 24 June 2013

A window of opportunity


I drew attention in a post published earlier this evening to the additional material contained in comments added to items posted on this blog, especially those added to posts on the recent amendments to the General Permitted Development Order.

One of the points that has been confirmed in these comments is that THERE IS NO CHARGE for making a prior notification application under the new GPDO amendments (at least not yet). So those authorities that are purporting to charge a fee are exceeding their powers (Richmond LBC and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, for example, who are asking for a fee of £80.00). Apparently Camden LBC have recently sent out an 'application form' demanding a fee of £192.50 for each new residential unit created!

It is true that Paragraph N(2) in the amendment order provides that : “The application shall be accompanied by — ..... [specified items] ...... together with any fee required to be paid”. As matters stand at the moment, the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012. Regulation 14(1) provides that “Where an application is made to a local planning authority for their determination as to whether the prior approval of the authority will be required in relation to development under Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order (permitted development) a fee shall be paid to that authority of the following amounts — (a) for an application under Parts 6 (agricultural buildings and operations), 7 (forestry buildings and operations) or 31 (demolition of buildings) of that Schedule, £80; (b) for an application under Part 24 of that Schedule (development by electronic communications code operators), £385.

Thus for the time being, NO FEE IS CURRENTLY PAYABLE in respect of applications under Part 3 of the GPDO. So Richmond and Windsor & Maidenhead are wrong to demand £80, and I wonder where Camden got their figure of £192.50 from? (Half the fee payable under Part 24? But how did they work that out?!)

It was clearly intended that a fee would be introduced, and a draft SI has recently been published, in the form of The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. This will introduce a flat fee of £80, but this amendment will not come into effect until 1 October 2013. So if you get your application in before 1st October, you don’t have to pay a penny! It seems odd that they didn’t make this amendment to the Fees Regs on 9 May timed to come into effect on 30 May but, for whatever reason, there is another three months within which any number of these prior notification applications can be made entirely free of charge.

Meanwhile, if any LPAs mess about demanding a fee and refusing to ‘validate’ or ‘register’ the application until or unless a fee is paid, they will be at considerable risk of running out of time, and could end up allowing the permitted development to be carried out by default. A canny applicant might just sit back and ignore such demands and simply wait for the time limit to expire, then go ahead with their development!

The other fee changes in the Fee Regs amendment are worth looking at as well. If time allows (unlikely at the moment!) I may blog on these in due course.

© MARTIN H GOODALL

3 comments:

Evan Owen - Snowdonia said...

The soon to be retired Director of Planning and Cultural Heritage at the Snowdonia National Park Authority told me he thought planning applications should be free.

I imagine that would make it easier for someone running his own fiefdom to provide a poor service and ultimately say no to those who challenge him.

But hey, the poor LPAs are in desperate need of your money, pay up!

Martin H Goodall LARTPI said...

I have always believed that charging application fees is wrong in principle. Parliament has seen fit to remove a property right to which a citizen would otherwise be entitled without restriction. If it is felt to be in the public interest to restrict this right, then the state (and therefore the taxpayer) should fund the necessary procedures, i.e. the development management system. I am old enough to remember a time when there were no fees payable for any form of planning consent. I could never see the justification for their introduction.

Andy Ward said...

Having read your blog I thought I’d have a look at the fanfare-lite proposed fee amendments.

A potentially hugely significant provision is the fee refund requirement after 6 months if there’s no decision on an application. Given recent experience with some LPA’s it can be predicted to be side stepped by many through the threat of refusal, pressure for withdrawal, and insistence on items like S.106’s being all but complete on submission of the application.

The provision for an £80 fee for the new PD prior approval requests clarifies one issue for me about how the new PD procedure would work proposals that also relate to a development with elements that require full planning permission. The unstated clarification (with apologies for stating the obvious!) is that a prior approval request would be procedurally separate from a planning application but, importantly could be dealt with at the same time with the LPA seeking to conflate the two into one big application, as some might. Hence, a change of use from offices to flats that also involves extensions to form flats could be dealt with as a PD application for the flats formed by COU and a planning application for those formed by extensions (along with any alterations for new windows, etc). This will be a difficult concept for some people to get their heads around!